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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

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  1,853 Ratings  ·  360 Reviews
“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 ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published July 1st 2009)
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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
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
Jeff Crompton
Jun 12, 2012 Jeff Crompton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Albert
Oct 28, 2010 Susan Albert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-agriculture
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
Margaret Sankey
Jan 14, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2013 Sher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2013 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it
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
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
Sep 29, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating and entertaining venture of the culinary experience of living in the tenements over a period of over sixty years and multiple waves of immigrants and nationalities. It covers the German, Irish, German-Jewish, Eastern European Jewish, and Italian waves of immigration.

The Tenement Museum on NYC's Lower East Side is a favorite place of mine, and this book goes incredibly well in tandem with having visited it several times. The book doesn't delve too deeply into the famil
Dec 31, 2010 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 04, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2011 Kathrina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, foodie
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
Dec 31, 2010 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Dec 21, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jun 02, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Karen
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
Feb 27, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 06, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer S. 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
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
Dec 03, 2010 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2011 Theresafic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 26, 2013 Shari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Duggan
Feb 13, 2014 Sarah Duggan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2011 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, new-york
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.
Amy Karon
Jul 23, 2014 Amy Karon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books this year. Wonderfully written and researched. A fascinating history of the Lower East Side through a culinary lens. By focusing on food, the author brings to life the hardships, centuries-old stories, and immutable strengths of these immigrants. My only wish was to learn more details about the five immigrant families whose stories she tells, but nonetheless, this book easily won my five stars.
Dec 29, 2012 Marcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Now I know a little of the waves of immigrants between 1830 and 1930. Where they came from, their circumstances, how their lives took form in America, and how their input helped shape American culture.
Mar 20, 2012 Sandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a story or a non-fiction documentary. Except for a couple of recipes pretty boring. Skimmed through and gave up.
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Jane Ziegelman is the director of the Tenement Museum's culinary center and the founder and director of Kids Cook!, a multiethnic cooking program for children.

Her writing on food has appeared in numerous publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
More about Jane Ziegelman...

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