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

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,185 ratings  ·  283 reviews
In 97 Orchard, Jane Ziegelman explores the culinary life that was the heart and soul of New York's Lower East Side around the turn of the twentieth century—a city within a city, where Germans, Irish, Italians, and Eastern European Jews attempted to forge a new life. Through the experiences of five families, all of them residents of 97 Orchard Street, she takes readers on a...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published July 1st 2009)
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The Library Lady
This book's title is deceptive. There is very little about the five immigrant families in this book. The real focus is on how the arrival of various groups of immigrants influenced and changed the food world of New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The people have little more substance than cardboard figures tucked into the story to illustrate it. And while there is some interesting information about food of the period here, the style is so higgledy- piggledy, jumping from one...more
Iowa City Public Library
For me, the most memorable parts of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a coming-of-age novel set in the tenements of Brooklyn, involve food. When I think about that book, my mind jumps to the scenes when Francie Nolan buys half-priced stale bread from the bread factory wagons or when Francie’s mother tells her how to get the butcher to supply them with fresh ground beef. Food was important. The good times for Francie’s parents are described when they both had steady jobs and were able to ea...more
Sher
The author traces five immigrant families -- all of whom lived in the 7 Orchard tenement in New York in the late nineteenth early twentieth century. The reader sees how these families lived and what they ate. In addition you'll be treated to a history of foods that finally made their way to the American palette and stayed there-- foods like pasta, frankfurters, a version of hamburger, pretzels, and many more. In addition I learned about the types of food shops and immigrant run restaurants that...more
Jeff Crompton
This book was a gift from my wife, who knows that I'm interested in history, and, well, food. I wasn't convinced that it was something I really was interested in reading, but I found it fascinating. As some other reviewers have said, don't take the subtitle too seriously - there is little history of the five families who lived in the same tenement building at 97 Orchard Street on the lower east side of New York. Rather, those families serve as representatives of five groups of immigrants - Germa...more
Margaret Sankey
From the culinary curator of the Tenement House Museum in New York, a reconstructed history of the kitchens of five waves of families from 1860-1940--the Glockners (Germans), Moores (Irish), Gumpertzs (German Jews), Rogarshevskys (Polish-Lithuanian Jews) and Baldizzis (Sicilians). The cyclical food history pattern is always there--the immigrants are eating crazy, spicy, strange-smelling food and they should knock it off and quit hanging around with other emigrants in basement restaurants talking...more
Susan Albert
97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement is remarkable not only for its stunningly rich documentation, but for the richness of its unique central idea: an intensive, extensive study of the foodways of European immigrant families who lived in a single tenement building over five decades. Using the building as the setting for her dramatic narrative, author and food historian Jane Ziegelman tells the multilayered, multidimensional stories of German, Irish, J...more
Steve
Potential, potential,potential. The concept here is great. Let's take a story rich concept (tracking immigrant families through a NY tenament over 40 years) and explain their lives and such. On top of that, let's work food in as a primary detail. I'm game. Sounds awesome. The problem is, there's no story here. This is an educational book. This is like going to a museum and reading the placards around the different exhibits. This makes sense to a degree since its tied to 97 Orchard - New York's t...more
Dree
The subtitle is "An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement." Unfortunately, that is not what the book is about. Rather, the author uses 5 families--the amount of info she has on each family can easily be found by a genealogist 30 minutes or less--of different ethnic groups who all lived in one building at some point over a 70-year timespan to frame a basic discussion of different food ways. Irish, German, German Jewish, Eastern European Jewish, and (southern) Italian....more
Melissa
I actually abandoned this book before finishing it because I found it to be uninteresting and not compelling. I expected a history of specific families and their experiences in the tenement and how these related to the food they ate. In this book the notion is more of a gimmick than a historical tale though, and each family history was basically just a venue for presenting a generalized overview of a certain immigrant group and the foods they ate. The information presented was not very surprisin...more
Kathrina
If you mix a people's NYC history from the period of 1890's through 1930's, full of every kind of immigrant with their crazy last names, constant clatter of languages, bustles and suspenders, greasy packs and steamtrunks, and mix that with the smells of knish and streudel, mutton chops and saurkraut, almonds in sugar syrup and gelato, I WILL MOST LIKELY READ YOUR BOOK. Something about that great expectation, enough to spend your last penny to ship your family across the globe for a new beginning...more
Frank
97 ORCHARD is a fun and educational read for even the most casual of foodie. The book discusses life of turn of the century immigrants from the late 1800's to the start of World War I. The typical life of German, Irish, Russian Jew and Italian immigrants are focused on and it is all presented through they eyes of their food. Unquestionably a very unique take on the immigrants story.

The story follows chronologically from the earliest influx of Germans on through the Italian influx leading into th...more
Caroline
Through the 19th and 20th century, New York has seen waves of immigrants from various countries. In the 1800s, blocks of apartments known as tenements were developed specifically to house the incoming immigrants. The author concentrates on 5 families that lived at 97 Orchard in New York through the 1800s and early 1900s, and divides the book according to each family of Germans, German Jews, the Irish, Russian Jews and Italians.

These families however, appear rather briefly in each chapter and see...more
Nicole
I liked this book quite a bit. One of my favorite books growing up was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, especially the passages about food or lack thereof, and this book covers similar ground in greater depth. I am making turnip latkes and pickled herring salad tomorrow because of the cravings this book inspired.

I do have some real problems with the way the book was constructed. I felt like it was trying to cover too much ground in not enough pages, so it was inevitably disorganized and incomplete. Lot...more
James
I read this because I visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard last year. Jane Ziegelman is director of a new cooking program at the museum. The book purports to be the story of five families who lived at 97 Orchard: the Glockners, the Gumpertzes, the Moores, the Rogarshevskys, and the Baldizzis. When I visited, I saw the Gumpertz and Balidizzi apartments. Several Goodreads reviewers have commented that the book doesn't really focus on the families in the way that the title impl...more
Kristine
A revelatory immigration culinary culture history using as a weak organizational tool one New York City tenement address, 97 Orchard, and five families who lived there: the Glockners (Germans), Moores (Irish), Gumpertzs (German Jews), Rogarshevskys (Polish-Lithuanian Jews) and Baldizzis (southern Italians). It may be surprising that the families serve only as a representation of their immigration group stories rather than being fully developed.

The book is worthwhile primarily for fascinating...more
Jenny Brown
While the framework of this book is not very sturdy--the idea of following five families who live in the same building at various points is brilliant, but not utilized to its fullest potential; very little is told about the actual families--the food history of the Lower East Side of New York is fascinating! Through food, we can see the changes in demographics (from the German to Jewish to other ethnicities moving in, such as Italians) as well as the changing customs and mores. Food brought peopl...more
Terry
ETA: I really enjoyed this book! My only tiny quibble is that it's publicized as being about "Five Immigrant Families" and it's really not--in most cases there just isn't enough material to discuss the families at any length at all, and in fact, in some places Ziegelman mentions the fact that the family happened to live at 97 Orchard and then never mentions them again (it's merely a way to organize the history around certain immigrant food, and I'm not sure it was really necessary--the book coul...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book was interesting but a bit uneven in its coverage of five immigrant families who happened to live in one tenement building in New York City. The author just attempts to do too much, tracing the recent history of five cultures, tracking their shared immigration experiences, while also discussing the foodways of those groups - some based on cultural or religious difference, and some based on survival and availability of ingredients. It is true these are all related, but some of the histor...more
John
This should have been exactly up my alley, being about food history and inspired by one of the best museums in the country (the Tenement Museum in New York), but it bugged me a little. It's hard to say exactly why. I really enjoyed most of it, and I learned a lot about the evolution of ethnic restaurants in NYC and the ways that hot dogs and pastrami and spaghetti were introduced to the American palate through these immigrant communities. There are some recipes included, and they seem manageable...more
Jennifer
Feb 27, 2011 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my historian friends
Recommended to Jennifer by: Ruth
This was an interesting but not well-structured discussion of immigration and culinary history, focused on five families (German, Italian, Irish, and both German and Russian Jews) in one New York tenement building (97 Orchard Street, to be exact). The information was fascinating, there were both recipes and many excerpts from 19th century newspapers and cookbooks, and there was lots of discussion about how food was both a way to assimilate but also to maintain culture. Each family gets a chapter...more
Diane
I love this book! I'm second generation German/Austrian and my husband had German ancestors in NYC who were living just as described in the book. The description of the "Turners" marching through was especially poignant to me. My husband's great grandfather was a member of Turners Rifles in the Civil War and reading about them in context was wonderful.

Some of the other comments bemoan that there was not as much information about individual families as they would have liked to see. As a genealogi...more
Theresafic
I loved this book. It really told you what life was like for different immigrant groups in NYC. Many of the details I heard parts of before, but did not realize for example how Germans gathered in groups of 3,000 on Sundays to drink and talk. The Irish didn't really have a national cuisine except for potatoes and how hard it was for Jewish people to eat American food due to kosher laws. I did not realize that Kosher laws were first changed or relaxed by immigrants to America. The whole book was...more
Shari
I bought this at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum when we were in NYC just after Christmas. I loved the Tenement Museum and I thought, based on the title, that this book would give me more insight into the lives of the people who lived there.

Well, it doesn't really do that. It's not really about the families, so I was a little disappointed -- but my disappointment gave way to pleasure soon enough, because it is still quite an engaging and interesting read. If you're at all interested in histo...more
Sarah Duggan
Warning: Do not read this book if you are hungry! It will make you crave all the bread and stew in the world.
The Tenement Museum is one of my favorite historic places in NYC because it brings the everyday routine of the past to life in a uniquely creative way. If you've been on their tours, the families highlighted in each chapter will be familiar. This book places them in a wider context, moving through the city's geographic and cultural shifts. I especially enjoyed the new perspectives on Ell...more
Janelle
After visiting the Tenement Museum a week ago, I found myself utterly obsessed with the immigrant stories it interprets. I listened to a talk about 19th century NYC food culture on the museum's YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnUSu... immediately regretted not purchasing this book while I was there.

But that's what the internet is for, right?! I ordered the book and binge-read it over the weekend. It profiles five immigrant families who lived at 97 Orchard St and traces their cul...more
Elizabeth Valera
This book is a fascinating read...though very heavy on the history of food. It is really less about the particular families as it is about the history of their home culture, the development of their food traditions/loss of their food traditions due to immigration and how their food traditions were adopted here in the U.S. If you enjoy cooking, you will love the authors descriptions of how certain dishes were traditionally prepared within the context of a tenement apartment where there was no ref...more
Carmen
Food history. New York. Two interests of mine seemlessly woven together in a easy-to-read yet meticulously well researched book. I learned not only about the foods that certain immigrants ate, but how this changed over time, how Americans viewed 'foreign' cuisines over many different eras, and how this was a description of New York history and not just a reflection of imported appetites. Really enjoyed this book.
Marcia
Maybe because I live in Brooklyn. Maybe because my family passed through Ellis Island on their way to Philadelphia. But I do love reading about the history of this amazing city. And maybe because I love the diversity of restaurants here I especially enjoyed reading about it through the foods that each wave of immigrants contributed. Amazingly a few of the restaurants are still around.
Laura
Some people collect magnets on their travels. I like to collect books.

During a visit to the Tenement Museum in New York City, I came across this book. I liked the idea of telling a story about several different families and how food was important to each. Like others, I think the title is a little misleading. Each family is used as a brief introduction to the chapter. Each chapter focuses more on the ethnicity/country of origin for different culinary influences. While interesting and historical,...more
Qnpoohbear
This non-fiction book explores the foodways of the various immigrant families who lived in the tenement at 97 Orchard Street in New York's Lower East Side from the 1860s to the 1930s. The author begins with the Germans and their process of assimilation. She then tells how, through their culinary traditions such as delicatessens and beer, Germans established themselves in American culinary culture. Next is the Moore family from Ireland. This chapter examines how the Irish lacked in culinary tradi...more
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r/books: (97 Orchard) Introduction and Chapter One 2 16 Dec 28, 2013 07:30AM  
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