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

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by Jane Ziegelman
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Here is what the publisher tells us about this book:

In 97 Orchard, Jane Ziegelman explores the culinary life that was the heart and soul of New York’s Lower East Side around turn of the 20th 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 vivid and unforgettable tour, from their impossibly cramped tenement apartments, down the dimly lit stairwells where children played and neighbors socialized, beyond their front stoops, where immigrant housewives found respite and company, and into the hubbub of the dirty, teeming streets.

Ziegelman shows how immigrant cooks brought their ingenuity to the daily task of feeding their families, preserving traditions from home, but always ready to improvise. While health officials worried that pushcarts were unsanitary and that pickles made immigrants too excitable to be good citizens, a culinary revolution was taking place in the streets of what had been a culturally English city. Along the East River, German immigrants founded breweries, dispensing their beloved lager in the dozens of beer gardens that opened along the Bowery. Russian Jews opened tea parlors serving blintzes and strudel next door to Romanian nightclubs that specialized in goose pastrami. On the streets, Italian peddlers hawked the cheese and tomato pies known as “pizarelli,” while Jews sold knishes and squares of halvah. Gradually, as native-born Americans began to explore the immigrant ghetto, they discovered the culinary enticements of their foreign born neighbors. 97 Orchard charts this exciting process of discovery as it lays bare the roots of our collective culinary heritage.

Paperback. Black and white photographs.

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