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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,652 ratings  ·  450 reviews
97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Smithsonian
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Start your review of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the things I enjoy about goodreads are the many book challenges offered by groups that allow me to read a wide range of books that I otherwise would not have considered. A popular challenge in a lot of the groups I am in is the A to Z Author Challenge where one reads a book by an author whose last name starts with each letter of the alphabet. For my Z selection I selected 97 Orchard by Jane Zeigelman. Zeigelman is the director of the Kids!Cook program at the New York Tenement House Museum ...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
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
Jeff Crompton
Jun 07, 2012 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 - German ...more
My dad picked this book up at a book sale and thought I would enjoy it and he was right. Two years later I'm getting to it, but better late than never! I'm third generation with my family coming through Ellis Island, so this was a fascinating read of five immigrant families who lived in the same tenement building at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. With a focus on the food they cooked, as well as some of the food changes happening in this country, it was a fascinating historical read! Z ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 13, 2011 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
Margaret Sankey
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 15, 2015 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
Rachel Schmoyer
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The title is deceiving since you think it’s about 5 families yet it’s really a history of food in New York City’s immigrant neighborhoods in the 1850-1930. That’s okay. This was Fascinating. This is a timely read as we are seeing immigrant relations in the news all the time. This gives me some background into Ellis Island although that is only a small part. Mostly it answers the question of what did immigrants in the city eat? How did they live?
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I found the chapter on Eastern European Jewish food culture the most interesting, with its discussion of Ellis Island dining halls, the expansion of kosher eating and options on the Lower East Side, the pushcart culture of NY, etc. I'd have liked more on each family, because this is really more a history of five culinary cultures, members of which happened to live in 97 Orchard. Still, quite interesting in places. ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is everything I love about a non-fiction book: history, immigration, family stories, and food. Ziegelman tells the stories of families from Ireland, Germany/Prussia, Russia, and Italy based on records of their arrival, employment, births of children, and residency in a particular tenement building in NYC. Interspersed with photos, vivid descriptions of beer halls, street vendors, markets, and meals, she paints a picture of 19th century Manhattan that brought to life the immigrant experience ...more
Karen Rush
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book although I did find the title a tad misleading. It does mention five individual families but more so follows the larger 'family' of immigrants from their particular country. Nevertheless, I was engrossed and found myself talking about it to anyone who would listen. I am left with one major thought after peeking into the pitiful kitchens and sparse pantries: Women are absolutely amazing and resilient. So often a meal was made out of virtually nothing yet food was presen ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
97 Orchard barely has anything to do with five specific immigrant families, as the title states, but it does offer an edible history of five immigrant groups in one New York tenement. The book was interesting on many levels; the most basic was seeing how the everyday foods were once so exotic- spaghetti! It's also knowing history to understand the present moment. Immigrants coming for a better life isn't a new phenomenon and our country's dependence on them isn't new either. Immigrants have alwa ...more
Ingenuity abounds in this history of feeding families and the food culture waves of immigration brought to the United States. This was also an eyeopening look (for me) at conditions at Ellis Island while hopeful immigrants waited to be approved for entry into the country at large. I was expecting to feel more engaged with the five families featured, but this really was all about the food. Recipes included!
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Two of my favorite things: history and food! This book covers the traditional meals of German, Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants and how the food evolved into American culture.
Dina Natale
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down! What a great history of immigrant culture and food.
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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)
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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 31, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jennifer S. Brown
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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r/books: (97 Orchard) Introduction and Chapter One 2 18 Dec 28, 2013 07:30AM  
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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.

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