An edible history of five immigrant families in one New York tenement
Special note: Do not read this on an empty stomach or when your cupboards are bare.
Looking for a read that deals with food history, cooking, immigration in the 19th and early 20th century, New York tenements, the Potato Famine, and the expansion of unorthodox Judaism? Congratulations, you can find it all with 97 Orchard!
Ziegelman starts with the Glockner family in 1863 and follows the tenents through the Baldizzi family in 1935. It is such a cool way to look at the history, from the viewpoint of one particular address. The building itself was also somewhat unique because it was built by immigrants for immigrants. Most tenements on the East Side were built by wealthy natives for use by people of the lower class. Lucas Glockner built the building and with his family, lived in it for over a decade, renting out the other apartments. Eventually, his son married the daughter of a tenant and moved back in with his family.
I mentioned that the book will make you hungry. Right off the bat there is a recipe for hasenpfeffer, a ragout made from wild rabbit and one for veal stew. Later, while looking in on the Rogarshevsky family, there is a recipe for challah and I have already tried the Baldizzi family’s zucchini frittata and it was fabulous. The stories are mixed in with the evolution of food in the immigrant families.
It is hard to imagine how people could live and thrive in tenement buildings. There was no running water, often no bathrooms, you had to use a privy outside, times were hard and children were many. However, these families did thrive and many left their story to be told through the foods they brought over with them from their homelands.
97 Orchard was easier to read than your run of the mill nonfiction because the pace kept moving and it didn’t get mired in day to day details. There was a lot of information and that kept me interested….and hungry. I may just have to feature a recipe or three in an upcoming post.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)