Life Stories Spanning Continents

This map animates the full text of the 51 vendor profiles as written in the book The World Eats Here. These vendor profiles were closely adapted from the vendors’ interviews for the Queens Night Market Vendor Stories Oral History Project, and most include large chunks of first person quotes from the interview. While the vendor profiles in the book (most a page or two) don’t come close to reflecting the diversity of stories shared in the long form interviews they draw from, they do reflect most of the big geographic moves the vendors have made over the course of their lifetimes, either in person, or through travels of the mind, as their parents and grandparents have passed down culinary knowledge from their homelands. And there have been many times as many Queens Night Market Vendors over the years than there were included in The World Eats Here. So this map reflects just a fraction of the possible journeys of the mind one could embark upon on any given night at the Queens Night Market, talking to the vendors there and learning their life stories, and the generational travels of the food they sell.

Past Queens Night Market Press Coverage

2015: This word cloud, made up of all major English-language press coverage the Queens Night Market got in 2015 (56 articles total), shows the 185 most frequent words that appear in these articles. The Queens Night Market launched a Kickstarter campaign in February, and opened for the first time in May. As you’ll see, the name of the Queens Night Market’s founder, “Wang,” is prominently featured, as are the most essential features of the market, “night,” “vendors”, “queens,” “food,” “international”–as many of these first articles were simply informing the public about the new phenomenon that had just arrived in New York City, and explaining how it came to be.

2019: January 1st-May 1st. This word cloud of the 185 most frequent terms does the same for the English language press coverage of the Queens Night Market that came out in the first four months of 2019–the fifth year of Queens Night Market operations. The season opens in April, so a lot of this press is informing the public about the new season, and new vendors. But still, you can see that “Wang” has shrunk considerably since 2015, and many more precise descriptors of the foods or cultural origins of the vendors have shown up–for example: “chicken”, “immigrant,” “Vietnamese”.
2020: Jan 1 – May 1. This word cloud sketches out the 185 most frequently used words in Queens Night Market press coverage garnered in early 2020, as the cookbook-with-oral-histories The World Eats Here was about to launch, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all normal operations, and Queens Night Market vendors started preparing meals for the Fuel the Frontlines initiative with the Queens Borough President’s office. Note how small “Wang” has become, and how many more words with connotations of a collective have appeared: “workers”, “businesses,” “stories,” etc. “Queens” has become, as the purported “epicenter” of the pandemic, a source of strength and identity –this word is now much larger than “Night” or “Market”.
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