The Voices of Lefferts Community History Project is proud to present a special issue of our journal on the topic of food as part of an initiative titled “Flatbush Eats: Food, Survival, and Celebration.” Inspired by the New Deal era Federal Writers' Project (FWP), Flatbush Eats aims to document the relationship between food and community in Flatbush-PLG. In the late 1930s, federal writers set out to collect stories and photos for a book to be titled "America Eats." Interrupted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into the war, the project was abandoned and the book was never published. However, what remains of the FWP archive of stories, recipes, cookbooks, and photographs tells us not only about food per se but also about a nation in transition, still reeling from the impact of the Great Depression—a period of American history often invoked these past two years of COVID-19 in relation to our own times.
This first of two special issues on food features writing by writers with roots in Trinidad, Grenada, Ireland, the South Carolina Sea Islands, Tunisia, the Ukraine, and Palestine. Featured foods include roti, hot sauce, Jollof rice, harissa, maqluba, callaloo, and MacIntosh apples. All of these essays are suffused by memories of home, parents, grandparents even as they reflect our own, ever-changing, collective history in Brooklyn. They trace the myriad ways food serves as a portal to the nuance, beauty, challenge, pain, and resilience that characterize our community, especially since the advent of the pandemic in 2020. Also in this issue is our now regular art centerfold, this time aptly featuring photographs of the Maple Street Community Garden.