Edible Expressions: A Linguistic Guide to Eating in Queens
Queens is a feast for the senses. From chow mein in Flushing to jerk chicken in Jamaica, it’s full of tantalizing tastes and smells. But it hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves for what it provides the ear: a true global symphony, voices from every continent, occasionally in discord, but mostly in harmony.
It’s estimated there are 138 different languages spoken in the borough. Queens is home to the English and Bukhari, a Jewish language with more speakers in Queens than its native Central Asia; French and Vlashki, an endangered Croatian dialect. But for all their differences, both social and syntactic, everyone’s conversation eventually turns toward the same thing: food.
That’s because food doesn’t only nourish the physical body—it feeds the bond between people. Just as breaking bread together can be the start of a friendship that transcends taste and heritage, so to can sharing the words we use to talk about our food and the way it makes us feel. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of edible expressions from a few of Queens’ many hungry tongues.
Words by Eleanor Cummins
Illustrations by Peach Davis