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‘No Passport Required’ Celebrates the Food and the Stories of Immigrants in America

From the Editor: The show, hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson, is both timely and uplifting

PBS

This post originally appeared on July 8, 2018, in Eater’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.


When you work on a project for over two years, the timeliness of its release is always left up to chance. But given the recent 4th of July holiday, where many of us ponder how we feel about this country, combined with the conversations around immigration (and mass global migration) in the news cycle, it seems fitting that Eater’s long in the works TV show with PBS and chef Marcus Samuelsson will air on Tuesday.

Inspired loosely by our long-running web series Cooking in America, this new show No Passport Required explores immigrant culture and communities through food traditions. In each episode, Samuelsson focuses on one immigrant community in a different American city (e.g., Haitians in Miami, Mexicans in Chicago, Ethiopians in D.C.). And we, as an audience, get to spend an hour each week learning about how this community grew and formed in this place, how members of the second and third generation grapple with a sense of home, and how food traditions persist and change. Because a culture is made up of so much more than meals and recipes, we also visit artists, business owners, musicians, and historians. (And maybe throw in a wedding or two.)

I’ve been so impressed watching my colleagues put this show together, taking care with the stories to build compelling narratives without exoticizing or stereotyping the subjects. And I’ve been incredibly impressed (if not surprised) at how well Samuelsson engages and empathizes with the people he meets in the show, relating to them as an immigrant himself — but recognizing that the parallels between their lives only reach so far.

Because this is PBS, this is not, on the surface, a political show. And while the conversations are sometimes difficult, the episodes are overwhelmingly uplifting (I witnessed real, live happy tears at a recent screening). I just hope Americans across the country who watch it and who may not know people from these communities come away with a sense of appreciation and respect for the food traditions and the stories that are told.

So please check it out, this Tuesday, July 10 and every Tuesday until August 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS — check local listings! — or stream the show on PBS.org or Eater.com.


Opening of the week: Kachinka

Kachka’s dumplings
Kachka/Facebook

Who is behind it?: Bonnie Morales, the chef behind Portland, Oregon’s beloved and essential Russian restaurant Kachka.

What is it?: It’s the more casual counterpart to Kachka that’s replacing the original in the same space. Kachka, meanwhile, will reopen in a larger space later this summer. As Eater PDX puts it, the overall vibe is “Kachka’s popular happy hour all night long.”

Where is it?: Portland, Oregon.

When did it open?: It opened last night.

Why should I care?: This move means the wonderful food of Kachka but at lower prices AND an opportunity to see how Morales expands upon her original concept at a new, larger space. Kachkina is exciting, but is the mere prelude to the main event.


On Eater

Ikoyi in London
Tomas Jivanda

On the Upsell

This week on the Eater Upsell, Dan and I discussed the biggest food stories of June, including Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman partnering with Ken Friedman, an activated charcoal ban, Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s visit to an inhospitable restaurant in Virginia, Madame Tussaud’s new Hangover-themed bar, the complications around covering the World’s 50 Best list, and oh so much more.


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