Tostada Magazine explores the intersection of food, culture, and identity in Detroit

Jun 14, 2018

 

Detroit has one of the largest populations of African-Americans among major US cities. But you might not know it based on what you see in the media, which often highlights the growth and development of white-owned businesses as signs of the city's comeback. 

There's a new journalism outlet looking to challenge that narrative. 

Tostada Magazine is a digital publication celebrating the range individuals who contribute to Detroit's food world. It aims to use food as a tool to discuss the issues facing communities of color and immigrants in the metro area. 

Serena Maria Daniels is the co-founder and editor of Tostada Magazine. She spoke with Stateside about starting her own magazine and the types of stories Tostada hopes to share. 

Creating her own media platform has been a dream of Daniels since she was a journalism student.

“I always really valued representation in media,” Daniels said. “Growing up as a Mexican-American woman, I didn’t really see other people who looked like me or had similar backgrounds or experiences as myself in public culture, television, and even journalism.”

Daniels spent years working in conventional newsrooms. She said she often ran into editors who did not understand why she wanted to write about certain topics. When she was thinking about how to write the kind of cultural stories she wanted to cover, she realized that food was a way to understand cultural and societal issues she wanted to address.

“Just cooking food is the means of preserving your culture,” Daniels said. “If you think about it, it is almost a means of fighting cultural erasure. In other words, when you're cooking your heirloom recipes that have been passed down for generations, you are keeping your family’s heritage and history alive.”

Tostada Magazine features interviews with chefs, home cooks, and restaurant owners who are using food as a means of preserving their heritage.  

One of the stories featured in Tostada this year was about a young Armenian-American man who felt disconnected from his culture. But after locating some of his family's heirloom recipes, he found a way to feel connected to his Armenian heritage. He went on to launch a series of pop-up brunch restaurants and eventually serving dinner at an upscale Hamtramck restaurant. 

“It's really a matter of taking what might otherwise be considered just another pop-up in the growing list of that sort of dining experiences, but really digging into what does cooking this style of food mean to that person?” Daniels said. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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