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Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built
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Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built

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3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The former owner/proprietor of the beloved appetizing store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side tells the delightful, mouthwatering story of an immigrant family’s journey from a pushcart in 1907 to “New York’s most hallowed shrine to the miracle of caviar, smoked salmon, ethereal herring, and silken chopped liver” (The New York Times Magazine).
 
When Joel Russ started peddling h
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ebook, 224 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Schocken (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Stuart
Mar 27, 2013 Stuart rated it really liked it
There's a lot of schmaltz in this tail. I'm speaking metaphorically here about the fat at the end part of a fish. Then again, this memoir is also a fish tale. In Russ and Daughters, the third generation owner of an iconic New York herring and lox store waxes nostalgic about the store's history. The tone is very conversational. Mr. Federman is quite the schmoozer and the story is as Jewish as a piece of challah dipped in herring sauce (try it, you'll like it, and don't forget to include some onio ...more
Mary
Mar 18, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
I laughed out loud more than once and had to interrupt my husband's work to read passages to him. That is always a good sign!

Russ and Daughters is an "appetizing shop" which means they sell smoked fish, candy and other assorted goodies. It is not kosher and they are not religious but it is definitely a tale of Jewish life in New York City over four generations.

Grandpa Russ opened the shop after he immigrated from Poland. His daughters and then their spouses joined him at work. The author is a g
...more
Leah
May 07, 2013 Leah rated it liked it
Russ & Daughters the book gives a pretty great sense of what it's like to be inside Russ & Daughters the family; you might hear the same stories more than once, but the punch lines are always good. Just don't try to read the book without a fridge full of lox.
Paul Jellinek
May 06, 2017 Paul Jellinek rated it it was amazing
Laced with plentiful helpings of old-school charm and self-deprecating wit, this lively memoir by the recent owner of the justly renowned purveyor of piscine delicacies on New York City's Lower East Side is as good as the rollmops. I know of no higher praise than that!
Ellyn Oaksmith
Apr 18, 2013 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it liked it
This book is a really fun read and comes with recipes, which is always a bonus. Not only is it about food, it's very much about the growth of immigrant New York and contains a lot of interesting history. The narrator is a little careful not to step on any toes, which is smart but makes the story a little arid sometimes. You get the sense that he detours around gossip, which makes for good family politics but leaves one with the feeling that perhaps the whole picture isn't here. That being said, ...more
Chana Billet
Feb 19, 2014 Chana Billet rated it really liked it
This fun, enjoyable read features New York's most famous, family-owned "Jewish" appetizing shop. From page one, Mark Federman takes the readers on an engagingly-written and tantalizing historical walk through time. As the readers go behind-the-scenes of the "House that Herring Built," the Lower East Side comes to life. From its push-cart laden glory to the hipster cafes and yuppie boutiques that define it today, Russ & Daughters has survived due to the Russ family's dedication, hard work and ...more
Hillary
Nov 25, 2013 Hillary rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Finally got around to reading this and let me say, once I started, I couldn't stop. I had a lot of fun reading about the history of the Russ family, the history of the Lower East Side, the history of the NYC Jews, and the history of herring! Plus, RECIPES! Perhaps because my husband similarly works as a third-generation family member for his family's business, the story of this hard-working family and how their business not only survived but thrived, changing with the times as needed, even when ...more
Phillip Frey
Apr 20, 2013 Phillip Frey rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves New York history
Recommended to Phillip by: A friend who gave it to me as a gift.
I loved this book. It covers more than the last 100 years of Manhattan's Lower East Side, centering mostly on the appetizer store called "Russ & Daughters." Mark Russ Federman, the grandson of the original Russ, impressed me with his writing. Included in this history of his store are recipes, along with Yiddish expressions with their meanings. You don't have to be of the Jewish faith to enjoy this book. Anyone who has enjoyed a bagel and lox sandwich should have a good time reading "Russ &am ...more
Sara
Mar 01, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing
If you’re Jewish, do yourself a favor and read this. If you’re a New Yorker, read it. If you need something warmhearted and written in an honest voice, read this. And if you like smoked herring, don’t miss it.

A sweet memoir of a shop on the Lower East Side. It reads well and Federman’s life choices are telling and relevant to today’s world. Disclosure: I’m Jewish, but I don’t really like Jewish cooking, but I loved this book!
Carrie
Apr 05, 2013 Carrie rated it liked it
Shelves: food_wine, nonfiction
Not the most brilliantly written book, but a wonderful window into a world that I love: Russ & Daughters! Russ Federman gives a nice overview of not only his family business, but the Lower East Side of the 1920s and onward. Definitely a better read if you, like me, are an aficionada of their lox & sable, but recommended to any food mavens.
Richard
Jan 19, 2017 Richard rated it liked it
Deserves a 3.5 rating. Very well written an entertaining book about the Russ & Daughters "appetizing" store on Houston Street and the family that still runs it. There is quite a bit of history as well due to its more than 100 years in business of selling smoked fish, herring, bagels, bialys, rugelach, babka and many other delicacies.
Guthrie Andres
Oct 07, 2013 Guthrie Andres rated it it was ok
Despite the fact that I really love smoked fish, this book came off as a bit pompous. I understand that it's a multigenerational family business, but I guess it's just not really that interesting. I enjoyed the parts about the store itself, but the book frequently digressed into a somewhat dull family history.
Jodi
Apr 01, 2013 Jodi rated it it was ok
The promise of this book's premise was not fulfilled. The writing was somewhat scattered, the anecdotes few (and sometimes repetitive). The recipes were randomly placed, and not necessarily related to the text. I really wished that there was more coherence to the story and more depth to the perspective of customers and relatives....
Lcitera
Dec 20, 2013 Lcitera rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable, entertaining read. A bit of history, a look at NYC's Lower East Side's evolution from an immigrant ghetto to upscale, gentrified neighborhood, a smattering of recipes (bagel bread pudding!) and more information on smoked fish than one could ever imagine. A small "appetizers shop" that through hard work and family loyalty, grew into a Manhattan landmark. Much fun to read.
Zvia
May 18, 2013 Zvia rated it liked it
It was definitely interesting to learn about business in the Lower East Side, especially at the beginning of the 20th Century, but the book was too long for my tastes. I feel like it veered into stories and explanations that were just fillers. On another note, it truly makes you crave bagels and smoked fish!
Barbara Pearlman
May 06, 2015 Barbara Pearlman rated it liked it
This is an interesting book about a well-known appetizer store in New York that got its start in the early 1900's. It goes into the history of the family who came her to avoid the pogroms and started out with a pushcart selling herring on New York's lower East Side. Lots of good recipes and interesting facts.
Kory Kogon
May 27, 2013 Kory Kogon rated it it was amazing
This was a nostalgic walk through both a heritage of Jewish culture and geography. My dad did business on the lower east side of manhattan and knows most of the characters, streets and customs that went on here. You don't need to love herring to love this book!
Kate
Dec 19, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
A fun exploration about the creation and day to day operations of one of New York's most beloved institutions. The story about the Australian cellist playing Kol Nidre in the middle of the store is particularly poignant.
Steve Peifer
Apr 16, 2014 Steve Peifer rated it really liked it
If you are a Calvin Trillin fan, you have heard of Russ & Daughters. Although I have never eaten there, I loved the history of the store and the picture of New York Jewish culture. Don't read if you are hungry.
Jim Willse
Mar 18, 2013 Jim Willse rated it liked it
If you're a goy with a deep love of Jewish culture and New York history, as I am, this is a delight. Mark Russ Federman, grandson of the founder, is an accomplished writer and story teller. It's a thin read and gets repetitious in places, but who needs too much herring?
Joan
I loved this book. It was so reminiscent of my NY life, and reminded me so much of visiting similar (though certainly not so storied) old-time establishments with my dad, who always made sure I had the best chub.
Manintheboat
Jul 20, 2013 Manintheboat rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I haven't been to Russ & Daughters. I'm not fond of fish. I do like bagels though.
This book rambles on like Mark is actually talking to you. The story goes all over the place, repeats itself, and includes things that don't really pertain to the story. Kinda like listening to my Grammy.
Rachel Coyne
Mar 06, 2013 Rachel Coyne rated it it was amazing
This book was just perfect. I loved it. I don't have a bucket list of fancy restaurants I want to eat at - but I could be tempted to make a list of delis and appetizing stores. Russ & Daughters would be at the top of my list.
Christina Boyle
Sep 02, 2015 Christina Boyle rated it it was ok
It is interesting how living in New York City for 20 years embeds a certain foundation of Yiddish and completely familiarity in what would otherwise be arcane (and possibly gross to some) food pairings. The book was interesting. The pictures were more interesting.
Erin
Mar 27, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
a great nostalgic memoir for any jewish new yorker. i spent most of the time reading this book either craving a bagel and lox or calling my own family to recount memorable moments at russ & daughters.
Tara
Apr 03, 2013 Tara rated it liked it
Enjoyable but not great.
Steven Lazen
Mar 17, 2013 Steven Lazen rated it really liked it
Great insight into the Russ and Daughters NYC legacy. I'm very hungry now!
Francie
Nov 18, 2013 Francie rated it it was amazing
A fantastic history of the renowned Jewish appetizer store and a nostalgic look back at New York's Lower East Side. LOVED this book- a MUST READ for any Jewish New Yorker!
Janet
Aug 25, 2014 Janet rated it liked it
3 1/2 really- I didn't think it would be as interesting as it was-
Todd
Apr 10, 2013 Todd rated it did not like it
Shelves: food
This book was SO damn repetitive! It could have been a pamphlet handed out at the store.
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