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OP: The Brooklyn Cookbook

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by Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy

By early in the 20th century, Brooklyn, once covered in farmland, had become an economic center and one of the most ethnically diverse localities in North America, if not in the world. The expanse of foods available there reflected that diversity in spades. The representation of nationalities only grew.

In time, restaurants, home tables, street stands, and—later on—food trucks offered dishes from Thailand, Norway, Peru, Pakistan, Russia, Armenia, and Senegal. It was a world of pizza, knishes, stuffed grape leaves, ceviche, enchiladas, pickle parlors, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, the Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup venerable egg cream (which, of course, contained neither eggs nor cream), and hundreds of other beverages and comestibles from everywhere. 

In this delightful book—one might almost call it an album—Brooklyn lover, food writer, and long term resident of of this gastronomic garden Lyn Stallworth celebrates the rich food heritage of the old Dutch village that became a city of its own and then a pulsating borough of the great New York City.

There are recipes, of course, but much more prominent—and even more entertaining—are the stories of the food, the people who brought them into being, the restaurants, the home kitchens, the little shops, and even the factories that made them. 

The book is a treasure trove of stories—of brands that flourished and those that flopped, of the critics who praised or excoriated them, of innovations by amateurs, professionals, and kibbitzers from Bensonhurst. From food writer Michele Scicolone’s prosciutto bread and comedian Danny Kaye’s Szechuan beef, to Junior’s cheesecake, and the peerless muffins of citizen Adele Horowitz’s mother. 

On top of all this, The Brooklyn Cookbook is a visual treat with hundreds of photographs, old advertising art, and other pleasures—brought together by Stallworth’s co-author, graphic collector/designer/publisher, Rod Kennedy, Jr. Published in 1991 by Knopf, this is a book to browse and re-browse. A Near Fine first printing with dust jacket, it is perfect for a home library or as a gift item for a Brooklyn fan who just can’t get enough of Coney Island or a good discussion of whether blintzes are best eaten with strawberry preserves or sour cream.

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