Cynthia's Reviews > Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York

Eat the City by Robin Shulman
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-read-in-2012
Read in July, 2012

A fun and informative….and hunger inducing read.

This is a mouth watering, thirst inducing story of culinary New York both past and present. Shulman alternately sketches the history of New York City and its relationship to a particular food or beverage juxtaposed against a current entrepreneur who’s attempting to start their own brewery, work their own bee hives, market premium meat, etc. Her descriptions made me want to go out and grab some of whatever she was describing. The fascinating part is that often it was and is recent immigrants who start or build on these industries in an attempt to honor the traditions they’ve left behind. Germans missed the delicious beer from home, Trinidadians missed fresh seafood dishes, Jews wanted kosher wines to honor the shabbat, and the Italians HAD to have wine every day, etc. Now tell me your mouth isn’t already watering?? New York City is a fairly small place with a huge population. Each block can change from one ethnicity to another and each group has their own unique palates. I loved the passion of these immigrants and learning about what excited and motivated them. Shulman focuses on groups and making individuals. Her humor is as refreshing as the food. And is there any better, more descriptive title than, “Eat the City”? New York culinary history is not unabated fun however. The history of water pollution throughout the city’s history makes the seafood industry depressing. Most of the seafood now served in New York is from out of state. Prohibition almost killed the bear and wine industries and brought a criminal element to these formerly pleasurable industries. On the other hand in bee keeping was made legal again in 2010 and Shulman’s jaunt through the city on bee’s wings is exhilarating. A fun and informative….and hunger inducing read. I would love if she did a series of books covering other cities. Shulman provides extensive footnotes should you want to explore further or want more explanation. I see another reviewer mentions the pictures which I saw none of in the e-galley I read so you might want to be sure and get a physical copy of the book.

This review was based on an e-galley provided by the publisher.
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01/11 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Ummm, the Germans I know don't eat a lot of bear.

(Blame autowrite on your iPad or sumfink)

Cynthia Karen actually she said they considered it a food staple and highly nutritious. I suppose it was their 'marketing department' (Jacob Ruppert). They advertised free beer with the price of a meal for local workers. I've personally known several people who (apparently) get most of their sustenance from beer. See and you said it wasn't food!!! Don't you feel silly now?

message 3: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Oh OK. BEER with double ee. I was thinking maybe your typo was a mistake for bread (almost the same letters), which is also really tasty here, and the thing that German expats always miss.

Cynthia Dear Karen, you should know by now you have to get a sledge hammer out before I understand something. I pictured ya'll roaming the black forest perpetually lusting after bear flesh. Ok that's not true but I had no trouble picturing a German citizen with a stein in their hands. My grandfather told me about how he and his MANY brothers would get a bucket of beer from a nearby saloon and sit on their back stoop while drinking it and shooting the $h*t. But you're right....there were no bears in his story.

message 5: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Now you're rolling. And yes, absolutely, especially in the south, beer is considered to be a food staple.

message 6: by Mmars (new)

Mmars Once I learned this I've never got out of my mind how in the European dark ages/middle ages people drank beer/malt/ale instead of water. My ancestors are German and can down a lot of beer - i think their genetics have changed. Anway, I don't live in NY and know little of its foodishness, but can't imagine it being contained in one book. If I get a chance to visit though, this book could be fun.

message 7: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Terrific, C! "yuck" and Yum!!

After Karen's shot, I would not dare to mention that the Jews did not have sabots, but shabbat; but I knew what you meant. I generally have no i-pod, or whatever, for my typos, only myself! :)

Cynthia Sheesh! Thanks Barbara. I think I'd spelled it Shabat and the spell check spit out sabots. I should have known to check it. Honestly guys I WANT to hear about my gaffs so I can fix them. I still reserve the right to mess with you. hehehehehehehe.

message 9: by Cynthia (last edited Jul 16, 2012 07:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cynthia I've got German folk eating bears, Jewish folks honoring clogs when all they wanted was some beer and wine......makes me wonder what other not so subliminal messages I have hidden in those paragraphs.

message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Love those spell checks!! Not too sharp sometimes...
It really does sound like an interesting book. ;)

message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol I just can't keep up with you :)

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