Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto


by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide


REVIEW by Dina Di Maio

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

by Jane Ziegelman
HarperCollins, June 2010
Hardcover 272 pp., ISBN: 978-0061288500

My grandmother worked in a millinery in New York City. Her father, a butcher, made her lunches, sandwiches overflowing with Italian meats and cheeses on crusty bread. The other women had small sandwiches. Grandma complained of embarrassment, so her father halved the sandwich. Still too big. One-fourth made Grandma an American.

When my grandmother came to the United States, Italian food wasn't popular. According to Jane Ziegelman, director of the culinary program at New York City's Tenement Museum in New York and author of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, the prevailing thought in America was that early Italian immigrants had low character and weren't as physically adept because they subsisted on "stale bread, macaroni with oil, and . . . a handful of common garden weeds." Now, the Italian hero is on the menu of every sandwich shop.

I love stories about the colorful New York neighborhoods and traditions inspired by 19th- and 20th-century immigration, especially because my family was part of it. Spanning from 1863 to 1935, 97 Orchard follows five real families who lived at the address that is the present-day Tenement Museum. Although each chapter is titled with the last name of a family and gives a short bio, the focus is on the food history and traditions that each family would have encountered while living at 97 Orchard. The reader has to infer the kinds of meals each family made from what was popular at the time, which works as a creative way to tell the culinary story of immigrants.

The first family is the Glockners, who built 97 Orchard in 1863 in the largely German neighborhood. During this period, a krauthobler used a tool to shave a head of cabbage for a penny. Mrs. Glockner most likely had the krauthobler shave cabbage to make sauerkraut for dinner, a German food staple. Yes, the Irish Moore family ate potatoes, most likely "kitchened" with "any fatty or highly seasoned morsel . . . to give the meal savor," including an ingredient like pepper or bacon.

Ziegelman describes the Jewish relationship with food as food-joy, a "highly developed zest for eating." For centuries, German Jews made gefilte fish, a steamed carp dinner, a meal that’s probably what the German-Jewish Gumpertz family ate in the 1870s. Later, Jewish immigrants from Poland, Russia and Lithuania, rolled a chopped fish mixture into balls and served it cold with horseradish. Jews in America struggled with dietary restrictions, some incorporating foods from their new homeland, like oysters, into their diet. Others remained traditional, not using lard or butter but, instead, goose fat for cooking. Goose farms were big business in the Lower East Side—involving organized crime and inviting visits from the sanitation department. This fat, called schmaltz, later came from chickens once chicken breeding modernized.

In the 1880s, Russian Jews began moving to the Lower East Side. The Lithuanian Rogarshevsky family probably snacked on pickles from barrels and knishes at knish parlors. A friend of mine, now in her 80s, told me fondly that when she was a child, her uncle would take her to the movies and for knishes at Yonah Schimmel's, opened in 1910 and the only knishery still in business.

Perhaps my grandmother's embarrassment by her culture's food came from propaganda aimed at immigrants. The New York Board of Health issued a recipe book and "taught" immigrant women how to cook. As the Americans thought the Italians ate only bread and macaroni, the Jews were criticized by dietician Bertha Wood who thought that pickled foods destroyed the sense of taste and actually made assimilating to American culture more difficult. Thank goodness these women didn't listen too hard to the false claims about nutrition and the pressure to assimilate. Who doesn't eat a pickle with a huge hoagie?

Ziegelman does an excellent job of educating her readers about the prevailing views on immigrants, nutrition and cooking, showing that the inhabitants of 97 Orchard left an everlasting legacy on the food history of the Lower East Side, the city of New York and the United States.

October 24, 2010