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

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    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 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. This book details life of newly arrived immigrants over the course of one hundred years, five families of different ethnic groups who made one building home. Prior to the civil war, one of the first groups to immigrate to the United States were the Germans. Decades before World War I when they were seen as a threat to security, the Germans were viewed as model immigrants. Being from Western Europe, they blended in with Caucasians already on American soil and they were viewed as hard workers. Yet, Germans hung on to many traditions, including their food. Mid 19th century New York was still very much a rural urban center; Germans opened breweries and factories to produce their national cuisine including sausages and beer. Prior to their arrival, Americans beverage of choice had been rum. Yet, the German presence slowly changed this as taverns and saloons opened in the German neighborhoods, allowing workers to stop for a beer on the way home from a long day. In addition to beer gardens, Germans are responsible for introducing both the hamburger and hotdog into American traditions, both foods now considered a symbol of this country. After the Germans, the next group to make their presence felt on American soil were the Irish. Fleeing from the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s, parents placed their children on ships in hope that they would have a better life in the United States. Yet, the Irish were met with discrimination from older immigrants, predominately because of their catholic faith. As a result, they were relegated to menial jobs including street cleaning and factory workers. Their culture was their one means of expressing themselves, including the dance that we know today. Zeigelman writes less about Irish cuisine because she points out that as a group they were most likely to eat at home. The one food of theirs that has made inroads in mainstream society has been corned beef and cabbage, although it is still not on par with other foods considered national dishes. No two groups immigrated to the United States from the 1880s to the 1920s more than Italians and Eastern European Jews. Both groups cooked with savory spices and herbs and were responsible for a plethora of pushcart vendors peddling their cuisine throughout the Lower East Side. While both the bagel and spaghetti and meatballs are revered by Americans today, this was not always the case. Health workers attempted to Americanize both groups, starting with the children attending public schools. They instituted cooking classes in hopes that the children would learn the importance of eating blander foods and bring these lessons home to their parents. Yet, both Italian and Jewish homemakers had been cooking since they were young children and clung to their traditions from home. Despite the valiant efforts of health officials, both ethnic groups continued to prefer the comforts of home including dill pickles and Italian ten course Sunday dinners. Along with the Germans and Irish, Jews and Italians are responsible for creating a melting pot culture as the United States grew to be a country of many immigrants. Zeigelman weaves the history of immigrants along with their food contributions to American history and key recipes for each ethnic group's cuisine. She points out instances where each group chose to Americanize and others where they adhered to their traditions from home. The 97 Orchard tenement building was emblematic of the changes immigrants underwent over an one hundred year period, and the building is now part of the New York Tenement House Museum. An interesting look at how food influences a people's history, 97 Orchard was a thought provoking read, which I rate 4 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    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 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 topic to another, as to make this less than coherent reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    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 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 eat roast beef with noodles. I often thought about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn while reading 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman. 97 Orchard describes the food cultures of five different immigrant groups that resided in a tenement located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan: the Germans, Irish, German Jews, Russian-Lithuanian Jews, and Italians. Ziegelman provides details on the staples of each group’s cuisine, the history and recipes of important dishes (such as gefilte fish), and how the food was received in the United States. For the most part, their food was not accepted. Those involved in the settlement houses tried very hard to move immigrant groups away from their food culture by adopting an American diet. The food of Southern Italians was deemed unwholesome because it contained too many vegetables. Thankfully, the Italians weren’t too keen on American cuisine and actually spent a great deal of their money on importing ingredients from Italy. If you are interested in food or history, I highly recommend 97 Orchard. It is “as good as bread.” --Anne From ICPL Staff Picks Blog

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Crompton

    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 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 - Germans, Irish, German Jews, Russian Jews, and Italians - and how food shaped their experience as new Americans. I learned a lot, and loved almost every minute of it. I was particular surprised to learn, given how much Americans love Italian food, how that food was scorned by "real" Americans for many years. There are 19th- and early-20th-century recipes scattered throughout the book; most of them seem at least a little removed from our 21st-century tastes and standards. But I just might try the lentil soup and the stuffed cabbage.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    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 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! Zielgelman gets a little too wrapped up in the historical details sometimes and it's a bit uneven in spots; I wanted to learn more about the families, but alas, I'm sure not a lot of information was kept, but it was enjoyable all the same. Now even more I want to visit the Tenement Museum in New York on my next visit! Fingers crossed, that will be sooner rather than later!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    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 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 surprising (ie the Germans introduced beer and a variety of sausages to NYC) and I just couldn't stay interested in the narrative. It's too bad, I had really high hopes for this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    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 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 tenament museum. I didn't get that at all from the book flaps. I was fully expecting a story. I was expecting tales of hardship and triumph and woe and joy. Note...I also missed that this was mostly about food which I should have gathered by the sub-title. I like going to museums. I read all the little write-ups. All of them. In that context this was great. If I was reading this in the tenament museum I probably would have loved it. The basic layout had potential and there were stretches that were great. Some spoilers below... Each chapter started with a little history of the "characters" and their people (German Jew, Irish, Hungarian Jew, Italian and a fifth I have missed). There's a bit of history (which I always enjoy) and a brief background of the specific folks. But there's a lot of generalities. They could have been this, could have done this. The story isn't there. The "characters" are just a conduit to speak about their food traditions. The next thirty-fifty pages are basically an expansive list of their habits (shopping, coking, eating) of a class and type of people. They check in with the family on occasion, buy not nearly enough. Also sprinkled through is recipes. Again, the book is mostly tied to food. Again...this is interesting. But the sales pitch is wrong. Its misleading to present this as a history of the families or the tenament. Its neither. Its a discussion or lesson on food. The tenament barely plays into it. And the families are very generic with information pulled from a census. As a museum tied piece (and I'm 99% sure this is) they probably have to stick to the facts. But, I would love to see more tie-ins to the family. More...story. Overall...there is potential here. It just doesn't come through. If you love food and love non-fiction this one is good for you. If you love the tenament museum then yes. If you want a tale of five families living their lives (actually doing something other than eating) then take a pass. This book was a gift from my wife at Christmas. I was actually pretty stoked to read it. Sad that it didn't pan out...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    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 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, it just gives me shivers. Throw in some photos and I'm yours. I loved reading this book more than, most likely, the average reader, but I think I've explained my bias. However, I am able to step back and note that the organization of this material was not ideal. The device of following each family as they lived at one address over the decades was a cute idea that couldn't follow through. There was just too little documentation to really provide a good picture, and the author fell to using comparables so often, she probably just shouldn't have tried to manufacture a thread that couldn't take the weight. Also, she jumped around decades with wild abandon, from 1890 in one sentence to 1924 in the next. It was hard to keep straight the evolution of immigrant food over any span of time, which I believe was really the point. But what was great were some fabulous recipes, most of which I'm sure I'll never try, some interesting tidbits on kosher cooking, and an intriguing history of the public school lunch program. This is a good read for anyone interested in immigrant America and our melting pot of what's for dinner, but if you're looking for a seamless narrative to guide you through, this isn't it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    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 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 politics, but hey, this stuff is cheap and it tastes pretty good, and if you tone it down a little bit, it becomes "standard American food," and then the next group comes along. With amusing sidelights on the Nativist Home Economists War on Pickles as a Bar to Assimilation, Crisco as a cooking innovation for Kosher cooks (a parve fat--neither butter nor schmaltz!), the Italian dominated candy industry, WASPs freaking out about spaghetti twirling, food-service at Ellis Island, a reminder of how much I like German stew with dried fruit and the absolutely fact that every group of poor people has a specific way they've learned to cook cabbage.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Albert

    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 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, Jewish, Lithuanian, and Italian residents and the food traditions they celebrated. In 1863, a prosperous German tailor built a home for his family in New York's Lower East Side, and rented out the other apartments in his building to German acquaintances. Using an impressive range of primary sources, Ziegelman reconstructs not only the history of Lucas Glockner's new building, but the story of the larger tenement neighborhood, product of the sharp rise in immigration that had begun some 40 years earlier and continued for more than a century. But the real heart of her narrative is the food the German immigrants ate, described in the German cookbooks Zielegman quotes (recipes included in the text), the groceries sold in the shops and bakeries on Orchard Street and in the larger markets, and prepared by Mrs. Glockner for her family. Ziegelman even takes us into the saloons and beer halls, and to the picnic grounds where huge Volksfests were held. The remaining four chapters of the book are marked by the same careful, skillful attention to historical detail, food origins, culinary traditions, and even grocery lists. The Irish Moore family ate potatoes, fish hash, and corned beef and cabbage, and frequented restaurants such as Dolan's, where they could buy oyster stew for 20 cents, pickled tongue for ten, and crullers for a nickel. Mrs. Gumpertz, a quintessential Jewish mother, is pictured making gefilte fish (a dish brought from the Old Country, along with the oblong gefilte fish pot and the Sabbath candlesticks) and other Jewish specialties. The Rogarshevskys, who came to live at 97 Orchard after their arrival at Ellis Island in 1901, found the neighborhood full of pushcarts, where they could shop for the makings of their daily soups. During the Depression, the Baldizzis, like other Italian immigrants, spent their tiny food budget on a few indispensable staples: bread, pasta, beans, lentils, and olive oil, with free groceries provided weekly by Governor Roosevelt's Home Relief Program. Over the decades, 97 Orchard Street was home to nearly 7000 working class immigrants. Boarded up for half a century, the building now houses the New York Tenement Museum (http://www.tenement.org), which features museum apartments that reconstruct the living situation for families like the Glockners and the Moores. For a look into the building, visit the Tenement Museum's website. And then read Jane Ziegelman's fine book, which so fully and dramatically documents the way the building's residents celebrated life in their new country with food cultures brought from the old. 97 Orchard: An Edible History is social history at its very best, fully documented and beautifully written, a stunning testimony to the importance of food in our lives. Kudos to Jane Ziegelman for an original idea, artfully and provocatively executed!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sher

    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 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 became famous in New York City during the late 19th century. The families-- Russian, Jewish, Irish, German, and Italian provide a background for the author to present a history of immigrant foods in New York. One chapter was devoted to Ellis Island the place where many immigrants stayed before coming over the mainland. Some never made it, because they were sent back, but they were fed very well before returning home. The book is a collection of all sorts of interesting tales about this time in American history--plus lots of recipes depicting immigrant foods. Many of which could be made today and relished.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 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 implies, and I suppose that's true, but that's really a fault of the title and not the book. As Ziegelman points out, poor people don't leave much of a paper trail, so, for the earlier families,at least, she had to rely on census data and municipal records to extrapolate the family story. The meat of the book (if I may indulge in a food metaphor) is more general, i.e. the Moore chapter deals with the broader experience of the Irish immigrants. This chapter yielded the most interesting factoid. I knew that the Irish peasants in the 19th century subsisted almost entirely on potatoes (approx. 12 lbs per day per person), with the rest of the island's copious food production being consigned to export. What I didn't know was that they made the potatoes palatable with one of a number of separately consumed flavor agents known generically as "kitchen." This could be buttermilk, seaweed, salt fish or, at the most impoverished level , water infused with black pepper. Just as the Moore chapter focuses on the Irish relationship with potatoes, each of the other chapters highlights a foodstuff of deep significance to the culture under discussion: beer for the Gentile German Glockners, schmaltz for the Jewish German Gumpertzes (I also never knew, though it seems obvious now that I do, why poultry fat is so ubiquitous in Jewish cuisine - Jews couln't cook with lard or butter, the preferred fats in Central and Eastern Europe), pickles for the Lithuanian Jewish Rogarshevskys, and bread for the Sicilian Baldizzis. There were a few annoyingly cute moments ("Let's look in on Mrs. Gumpertz"-type stuff), but very few. I though it was very well-written, well-organized, authoritative, and highly informative. Each chapter included recipes, which is a little trendy, but I thought the conceit worked better here than in the novels where I've encountered it. I would definitely recommend this to any foodie or history buff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    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 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, at least some of them (Maybe I can make some Challah bread! That would be fun). The structural device of using five real families who lived at one time or another in this one tenement was a good idea- though really, Ziegelman spends very little time on each family. Introducing each one is just a way to talk about Germans, then Jews, then Italians, etc. What bugged me though, primarily, was that Ziegelman writes things sometimes that seemed to come out of left field, and for which she doesn't provide any proof. Like "Abandonment was a special class of hardship reserved for East Side women" (104). Really? The only men who abandoned their wives were poor Lower East Siders? That can't be right. What is she basing that on? On page 175 she writes that street peddlers would drink "ten, twelve, fifteen glasses" of tea at the end of a workday. But there's no citation or anything- where is this coming from? I'm not saying I don't believe it, but I'd like to know where she got the information. Because at other times in the book, she seems to lean heavily on newspaper stories of the time that were not altogether neutral. When writing about Irish boarding house proprietors, for example, Ziegelman quotes from a New York Times piece from the 1870s, which describes a "slatternly" Irish maid and a boarding house lady buying disgusting meat for the tenants. According to Ziegelman, this "tells the story...of boardinghouse cuisine." But really? This is an unbiased source? I'm a little dubious. But my dubiousness aside, if you are interested in foodways and how certain foods became "American", and how immigrants reinvented their cuisine when they got here (at least east coast immigrants), then I recommend giving this book a look.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    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 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 the first World War. The story revolves around a single family from each ethnicity all connected by having lived in the same tennemant building at one time or another, 97 Orchard Street. The story however is about the foods they ate both as a family and as a people. Ultimatly this is a story about food history, the families serve to put a face to the food. The author, Jane Ziegelman has put together a smart and well researched book. A history of food not often told, 97 Orchard should be listed as an important food book. I have noted many other reviews of this book somtimes lambaste it for misrepresenting it as a tale of immigrant families but those reviews really miss the point of the book to begin with. Don't read this as a people history but as a food history and you will not be disappointed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dree

    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. 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. Only, the writing is so all over the place that you don't know what the topic will be paragraph to paragraph. She discusses settlement houses, the dining room at Ellis Island, free lunch in New York's public schools, the spread of the potato through Europe, pushcart markets. She makes sweeping generalizations that are questionable or so obvious as to be either "huh?" or "duh!". For example, Reform Jews eat banned foods, poor people make do, potatoes have lots of calories, poor people don't eat much meat, Americans did not like immigrants, and tenements were dark. Basically, this book does not tell the story it claims to, and pretty much reads like a senior thesis--lots of sources, no original work. Very disappointing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    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 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 family's personal stories and histories, which won't give away much of what one experiences on the tours at the museum (although, I, personally, was hoping to read more about these incredibly interesting families!). Nonetheless, the author has poured countless hours into the research that created this book, and you might walk away also wanting to make a few of the recipes!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Schmoyer

    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?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    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. 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    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 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 and made me add the Orchard Street Tenement Museum to my list of Must-Visits.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen Rush

    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 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 presented on a decently set table and traditions were kept. Thank you, Jane Ziegelman, I feel smarter for having read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    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 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 always fed our country. Food is a fascinating way to look at the immigrant experience.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    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!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dina Natale

    I could not put this book down! What a great history of immigrant culture and food.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    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 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 seemed to be incidental to what the author wished to share. The focus of the book really is a sociological study into why these waves of immigrants decided to come to America, how they came over, when Ellis Island was established, the food cultures these immigrants brought with them, how they adapted to the American way of life, the different trades that sprouted because of the different immigrants around the tenements to provide them with the ingredients from their homelands and more interestingly, how some of these immigrant foods have been adopted into the American food culture through the years. Some old recipes are also provided from each culture in each chapter as were copies of some of the food shopping lists and accounts from each period. The sociological aspects of the book rivaled, in my opinion, the food history, and made this one of the more fascinating books I've read this year.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    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 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 historical information she had varied in specificity, making some of the stories more compelling than others. A few of the families had so little actual information about them that she could have picked any random Italian/Polish/etc family and said the same things about them. I recently picked up Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited from the library because it had been on my to-read list since 2009, and I think books like that do a better job of matching recipe development with history of a group. It also has the luxury of an entire book to do so. It was funny to read two books in such proximity that talked about schmaltz. I did mark a few recipes that I might try, interesting to me as a baker.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    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 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. Lots of things were touched on (the domestic science movement, for instance), but then never really fleshed out. Maybe there was more "meat" there initially that was then edited out to make this a popular nonfiction book rather than a history for the layperson. The families themselves were covered adequately, considering that histories of this type don't have much in the way of formal recordings etc - but I was annoyed that the parts that were speculative and the parts that were factual were not distinguishable from one another. Great subject, great start - could've been even better with more detail and better organization.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    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 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 but the discussion within each chapter is often so wide-ranging that when there's once again a mention of the family, you're like, "Oh yeah. The Moores. I'd forgotten about them." This wealth of information would be much easier to digest and remember if the author had worked to make certain themes more apparent (I could see them in the raw data itself) and used them to give structure to the five individual chapters. The book just ends with no attempt to make any final connections between the families or about food and immigration. Instead, we learn what Mrs. Baldizzi fed her children on New Year's so there first taste in the new year would be sweet. That said, this book made me want to go to the Tenement Museum in NYC.

  29. 5 out of 5

    BookSweetie

    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 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 nuggets rather than overall impact, although most readers will also close the book with a much more vivid sensory image of life for immigrants in New York City in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Author Jane Ziegelman of the New York tenement museum uses a dizzying array of sources and while the breadth of research is praiseworthy, some readers may feel impatient with so much loosely connected detail. Historic recipes are sprinkled through the text and can be read or skipped over. The photos are a welcome addition.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Brown

    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 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 people together, but also served to alienate others (Italians were looked down upon for their strange foods and their unwillingness to eat the "foreign" American food). Foods that are commonplace to us now were quite novel at one time (who ate macaroni? Unheard of!). I learned so many new things (all those Jewish delis? They were started by the Germans). From the garbage pickers to the rise of restaurants to government involvement in folks' eating habits. Ziegelman takes what could be a very dry subject and really brings it to life. Quite enjoyable. But it did make me hungry.

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