Previews + Extras
Chef and Italian immigrant Lidia Bastianich shares stories of first, second and third-generation Americans shaping the shifting definition of what it means to be an American. As America grows more diverse than ever before, immigrants must figure out how much of their culture to keep and what to leave behind, and many are more openly sharing their heritage with a new country they now call home.
In Hartsville, South Carolina, Lidia is invited to a dinner to honor the Ukrainians and the community that has helped them. In typical South Carolina fashion, it’s a low country boil. Lidia recalls her experience as an immigrant, and Polina Frishko who fled Ukraine with her son talks about her hopes for the future.
Watch Lidia make Borscht, Ukrainian style, in Hartsville, South Carolina, with Polina Frishko and another Ukrainian immigrant, Enna Elias. While they cook, they talk about food and community.
Lidia visits Bhuwan Pyakurel and his wife Dil, who live in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Bhuwan is a refugee who made history in 2020, by winning a seat on the City Council, the first elected Nepali-Bhutanese official. Bhuwan gets emotional as he shares with Lidia the story of his journey from citizenship to City Councilor.
When civil engineer Marcos Lorenzo immigrated from Cuba, he found himself wanting to share the music and food of Cuba with his neighbors in Louisville, Kentucky. At the four Cuban restaurants he has now opened, Lorenzo wants guests to feel like they’ve been transported to Cuba. Lidia visits Marcos at one of his restaurants, Havana Rumba. Together, they cook a classic Cuban dish, Ropa Vieja.
As immigrants from the Indian state of Punjab increasingly join the ranks of truckers in America, “dhabas” – small roadside restaurants – have started popping up along major interstate highway Route I-40. Lidia travels to Bakersfield, California, to try the food, and meet Balvinder Singh Saini, who operates a Punjabi food truck with his wife, Mansi Tiwari, and a small staff of relatives.
Lidia is invited to the home of Christine Ha in Houston, TX, where they make Thit Kho, a braised pork belly dish together. Ha grew up eating Vietnamese food and took it for granted until she was 14 and her mother died. Teaching herself to cook, and then as an adult adjusting to vision loss, Ha set out to recreate her mother's dishes, using Vietnamese cookbooks and her father's memories.
In Houston, TX, Lidia visits Khalil Arab. Once an interpreter with the U.S. military, Khalil works with wartime allies as they start new lives in the United States. Lidia has picked up the food at a local Afghan restaurant, because Khalil and his wife Ferra have a newborn baby. The food is similar to a traditional Afghan home-cooked meal, and Ferra adds a typical Afghan salad to the mix.
At a Washington D.C. restaurant, Lidia organizes a potluck-style meal, where immigrants share food that is meaningful to them. The dishes on the table are from Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia and the Caribbean, as well as Lidia’s Italian Bean Soup. Lidia calls it, a ‘table of the world’, and it’s a true representation of the cuisines and culture that make up the American melting pot.
Toyin Alli brings Chicken 'n Beef Andouille Sausage Gumbo and a side of white rice to the celebratory potluck for Lidia's special 'Flavors That Define Us'. Her father’s Nigerian/West African cooking, and her African-American mother’s experimenting in the kitchen, influenced Toyin’s culinary successes, as well as this dish which blends American Southern comfort food with West African cuisine.
Lidia met Nazanin Ash while making her special 'Flavors That Define Us.' Naz brought Persian Baklava to the celebratory potluck celebration, and says, "I chose this recipe because it’s something that my mother made in Iran and taught me to make here...it’s a recipe that our whole family loves. It’s the ingredients--pistachios, rose water, cardamom and honey-- that make this baklava Persian."
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, restaurateur Jeanine Prime says her Paratha bead with curries, is the ultimate comfort food and the center of every family celebration and party. It reflects Trinidad’s multicultural influences of Caribbean French, Indian, Chinese & European flavors. Hear her explain what ‘Buss Up Shut’ means, as she shares her dish at Lidia’s potluck meal in Washington, D.C.
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