How New Jersey has become an epicenter of food culture

New Jersey boasts a population with roots from all over the world and also can stake claim to one of the broadest assortments of foods representing those countries and cultures. Photo courtesy of Gail Schoenberg

If one is truly open to all the possibilities, wondering what to have for dinner tonight may lead to a more difficult decision here in New Jersey than most anywhere else in this country. That is because a state that boasts a population with roots from all over the world also can stake claim to one of the broadest assortments of foods representing those countries and cultures.  

Almost one in four New Jersey residents are foreign-born, the third-largest immigrant population in the country. One in six residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. Our food culture is an immigration story, or millions of immigration stories, beginning today, going back hundreds of years and surely continuing well into the future. Successive waves of people have settled here and created a patchwork quilt that continues to grow larger, more colorful and more delicious to this day. With people from almost as many countries as are represented at the United Nations, it goes to follow New Jersey has as many significant representations of cuisines, if not more. 

One of the many stories that exemplifies this diversity and how it all comes together can be seen in one display case where the proof is in the … sausage.  

Any given week, Union Pork Store customers will find options made from recipes from various countries or selections that incorporate flavors and ingredients from any and every continent. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

The Union Pork Store in Union says “German Butcher Shop” on the sign, and it served a then-large German population in the area when it opened in 1946. In 2006, Polish immigrant Leszek “Jabi” Jablonski and his wife, Bozena, took ownership, continuing to sell German, Polish and other Eastern European meats. In a short time, though, Jablonski showed himself to be as much a food cultural enthusiast, creating sausages inspired by his love

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