The world on a plate: the diverse kitchens of Queens, New York

A food tour of New York’s most multicultural borough revels in Latin American and Asian cuisine, but also highlights how gentrification threatens to end this riot of flavours. Lead photo: Alamy. All other photos by Melanie Einzig

I’m waiting for what will turn out to be the most impressive sandwich I’ve had in recent memory. In the small dining room in the back of Beky’s Bakery, owner Roberta Torres sits at the head of the table, as her family eats breakfast around her. She wears her trademark Frieda Kahlo apron and keeps one eye on the line of customers forming at the counter. The ceiling is strung with fake flowers and a telenovela plays on the TV. We could be in Puebla, Mexico, where Roberta is from, but we’re not; we’re in Queens, New York, one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the US, where perhaps more languages are spoken than anywhere else on the planet, and Beky’s is just one of nearly 6,000 restaurants representing the 120 nationalities that call this county home.

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