97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

3.3 30
by Jane Ziegelman
     
 

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“Social history is, most elementally, food history. Jane Ziegelman had the great idea to zero in on one Lower East Side tenement building, and through it she has crafted a unique and aromatic narrative of New York’s immigrant culture: with bread in the oven, steam rising from pots, and the family gathering round.” — Russell Shorto,

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Overview

“Social history is, most elementally, food history. Jane Ziegelman had the great idea to zero in on one Lower East Side tenement building, and through it she has crafted a unique and aromatic narrative of New York’s immigrant culture: with bread in the oven, steam rising from pots, and the family gathering round.” — Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World

97 Orchard is a richly detailed investigation of the lives and culinary habits—shopping, cooking, and eating—of five families of various ethnicities living at the turn of the twentieth century in one tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With 40 recipes included, 97 Orchard is perfect for fans of Rachel Ray’s Hometown Eats; anyone interested in the history of how immigrant food became American food; and “foodies” of every stripe.

Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
The story…about Old World habits clashing and ultimately melding with new American ones, is familiar. But Ms. Ziegelman is a patient scholar and a graceful writer, and she rummages in these families' histories and larders to smart, chewy effect.
—The New York Times
William Grimes
Highly entertaining and deceptively ambitious, the book resurrects the juicy details of breakfast, lunch and dinner (recipes included) consumed by poor and working-class New Yorkers a century and more ago. It could well have been subtitled "How the Other Half Ate"…Ziegelman adroitly works her way through the decades and her five cuisines. Along the way, there are fascinating diversions.
—The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The director of the forthcoming Culinary Center at New York City's Tenement Museum embarks on a cultural and culinary tour of the building at 97 Orchard St., which serves as the museum's principal display. Ziegelman (co-author: Foie Gras: A Passion, 1999) offers the stories of five immigrant families who lived in the building sometime between 1863, when it opened, and 1935. The author's research is both astonishing in its dimensions and enlightening in its presentation. She begins with a German family, then follows with Irish, Jewish (from Prussia, Germany and Lithuania) and Italian families. Each chapter includes some of the recipes fundamental to that family. Readers will learn the procedures for making things like hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew), krupnik (a sweet alcohol), fish hash, oyster patties, stuffed pike, pickles, challah and zucchini frittata. Ziegelman digs out the personal history of each family, but she is most interested in their cultural milieu. She notes the forces-some unfriendly, others welcoming-that greeted the new arrivals, and includes a splendid section on the cuisine offered at Ellis Island. The author also examines how the food of the immigrants altered the eating habits of Americans (yes, there was a time when we disdained Italian food and didn't know what a bagel was), charts the rise of the delicatessen and describes the advent of Crisco. Scattered throughout are well-placed details that continually brighten the narrative, including a 1920 public-school menu, a portrait of the pushcart culture that thrived for years, the origin of schmaltz (the delectable grease from goose skin or chicken skin) and 1860s restaurant slang ("shipwreck" = scrambled eggs, "oneslaughter on the pan" = porterhouse steak). A tasty, satisfying stew of history, sociology, cultural anthropology and spicy prose. Author appearances in New York
Publishers Weekly
Ziegelman (Foie Gras: A Passion) puts a historical spin to the notion that you are what you eat by looking at five immigrant families from what she calls the "elemental perspective of the foods they ate." They are German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish (both Orthodox and Reform) from Russia and Germany--they are new Americans, and each family, sometime between 1863 and 1935, lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Each represents the predicaments faced in adapting the food traditions it knew to the country it adopted. From census data, newspaper accounts, sociological studies, and cookbooks of the time, Ziegelman vividly renders a proud, diverse community learning to be American. She describes the funk of fermenting sauerkraut, the bounty of a pushcart market, the culinary versatility of a potato, as well as such treats as hamburger, spaghetti, and lager beer. Beyond the foodstuffs and recipes of the time, however, are the mores, histories, and identities that food evokes. Through food, the author records the immigrants’ struggle to reinterpret themselves in an American context and their reciprocal impact on American culture at large. (July)
Library Journal
Ninety-seven Orchard was an address shared by five immigrant families who lived in one tenement building at different times from the end of the Civil War up to World War II. Ziegelman, who will direct the Culinary Center to open at New York's Tenement Museum, which is the actual 97 Orchard building, documents, in a manner not often found in such social histories, their struggles to adjust to a new way of life in America. Interspersed among the tales of each group are culinary details and specific recipes that add vividly to the flavor and texture of the descriptions of the hardscrabble life these families—German, Irish, Jewish, and Italian—experienced. The multitude of gastronomic details, from the origin of snack shops called delicatessens to the growing popularity of something called macaroni, are painstakingly described. It is an eye-opening exploration of the social and economic history of those who thrived and survived, in spite of significant odds, on New York's Lower East Side. VERDICT Recommended for those seeking up-close and personal—as well as edible—insights into the daily lives of late 19th- and early 20th-century "new Americans."—Claire Franek, MSLS, Brockport, NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061997907
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
230,096
Lexile:
1280L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB

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