Terry's Reviews > 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman
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Dec 31, 10

bookshelves: 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 could have been organized that way anyway). At any rate--a great romp through New York culinary history!

I'm still reading this book but decided to review it already because I love it! This is a great book for anybody interested in food and/or New York history. (On Alton Brown's "Good Eats" he sometimes works with a woman whose job description is "culinary anthropologist", which I think is probably the greatest job ever, and if you feel the same way, you'll love this book.) My only tiny caveat is that it seems to sliiiiiightly romanticize living in New York tenements circa 1860, which surprises me given the pedigree of the author. How you feel about this passage will probably tell you how you would feel about the rest of the book: "purslane, salsify, borage, burdock, beach plum, black currants, mulberries, nanny berries, black gumberries, and whortleberries". I personally felt like that was a great cross between poetry and Dr. Seuss, so I love this book. (Also, people in the 1860s ate some pretty amazing food--the bounty available to almost every socioeconomic class in the public markets puts contemporary markets at every level to shame.)
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message 1: by Cherie (new) - added it

Cherie Adding this to my list! I've been on that block a few times. It's where you'll find the Tenement Museum, which I love.


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