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97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement Hardcover – June 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061288500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061288500
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ziegelman (Foie Gras: A Passion) puts a historical spin to the notion that you are what you eat by looking at five immigrant families from what she calls the "elemental perspective of the foods they ate." They are German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish (both Orthodox and Reform) from Russia and Germany--they are new Americans, and each family, sometime between 1863 and 1935, lived on Manhattan™s Lower East Side. Each represents the predicaments faced in adapting the food traditions it knew to the country it adopted. From census data, newspaper accounts, sociological studies, and cookbooks of the time, Ziegelman vividly renders a proud, diverse community learning to be American. She describes the funk of fermenting sauerkraut, the bounty of a pushcart market, the culinary versatility of a potato, as well as such treats as hamburger, spaghetti, and lager beer. Beyond the foodstuffs and recipes of the time, however, are the mores, histories, and identities that food evokes. Through food, the author records the immigrants™ struggle to reinterpret themselves in an American context and their reciprocal impact on American culture at large.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this compelling foray into forensic gastronomy, Ziegelman pulls the facade off the titular 97 Orchard Street tenement.The result is a living dollhouse that invites us to gaze in from the sidewalk.With minds open and mouths agape, we witness the comings and goings of the building's inhabitants in the years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century. By focusing on the culinary lives of individuals from a variety of ethnic groups, Ziegelman pieces together a thorough sketch of Manhattan's Lower East Side at a time when these immigrants were at the forefront of a rapidly changing urban life. The food facts she uncovers are sure to interest and astound even those outside the culinary community, and guarantee that the reader will never look at a kosher dill pickle, a wrapped hard candy, or even the delectable foie gras the same way again. Ziegelman cleverly takes this opportunity to show us that in learning about food, we're actually learning about history—and when it comes to the sometimes surprising journey some of our favorite meals have taken to get here, it's fascinating stuff. --Annie Bostrom

More About the Author

I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but now I live in Brooklyn Heights with my husband, Andy, who also writes about food, and my two kids, Smacky and Buster.

I studied history in college, then spent some time in publishing before attending the NYU graduate program in urban anthropology, and that's when I became interested in the culinary history of New York. When my first kid was a year old, I started a cooking program for children called Kids Cook!

I spend most of my time cooking, eating, reading about food, and talking about food. The best place to eat in this city, at the moment, is the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, a place we visit every weekend. If you're interested in recommendations for places to go, drop me a line.

Customer Reviews

This book is well written, well researched.
Lenore Waters
Excellent for those interested in food, immigrant culture, history and/or New York City.
Maureen Mitton
This was a fabulous read, I would highly recommend it.
Mary A

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie J. Lyons on June 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I heard the author of this book on NPR and wanted to know more about the topic. I found this book fascinating. It shared many insights into life in the tenements of New York in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, most especially about the foodways of the immigrants. It was fascinating to read about the different groups and the "exotic" foods that they ate--some of which have become staples of our modern American diets. One small complaint was that I felt the book ended a bit abruptly. I think even a short conclusion or epilogue would have added to the book's closing.

If you do read this book, I'd also recommend looking up the website of the Tenement Museum in New York, which now occupies 97 Orchard Street. You can see addtional photographs and additional details about the lives of the families profiled in the book.

The Kindle formatting was good. The pictures mainly seemed to translate well, although some were small. But judging by a reviewer of the hardcover, this was also the case in the paper book.

The price was a bit high for a Kindle book, but I decided it was worth it for such a fascinating glimpse into the lives of our ancestors.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By M. F. H. on July 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
the book was a classic in telling the story of immigrants.. I live in a small town in Pittsburgh and could relate to all that was written in the book.. The food especially and the hard life the immigrants were living then..We still have the same going on in Pittsburgh but with different ethinic groups , nigerians, hatian and mexicans. They live in smaller tenaments in the city and our trying to keep their heritage from evaporating in the American climate.. So a great book for a better understanding of immigrant heritage..
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dolores T. Johnson on July 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I heard an interview with the author on NPR radio and I ordered it that day. It didn't tell as much about the families themselves, but I suspect not much more was known than what Ms Zeigelman wrote.
The talk of food and the recipies were so descriptive that I had to go out and buy dark breads, cabbage, saurkraut, sausages, etc.
Having German and Polish parents I grew up with most of the food.
All in all, the book was entertaining as well as informative.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S. Kessler VINE VOICE on September 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who is fascinated by all things food, including and especially the history of food as a mirror of culture, I loved this book. In addition to the foodways of each of the immigrants in the United States, the author explores each family's food culture in their native land and then discusses what did and did not transfer to the U.S. and how their culture was then changed by the U.S. And, further, how the rest of America assimilated that which the immigrants brought with them and changed our food habits for the better.

I particularly loved the chapter about the Irish immigrant couple, which goes into significant detail about why the potato famine was as devastating as it was to a whole generation of Irish and how British land and export policies caused the tragedy in the first place. It's a not often told story and not well known. I thought it very interesting that the Irish immigration was largely an immigration of teenagers and young adults, rather than families, and included more young women than men.

The other favorite chapter was the one about the Polish-Russian Jews because that is my personal heritage. When I was a child in the 50s and 60s, my own immigrant parents from Poland fed us in pretty much the same way as the Jewish mother back at the turn of the 20th century. It was all very familiar to me.

The reason I have given 97 Orchard 4 instead of 5 stars is that I wanted the author to provide a concluding chapter that brought all the threads together, discussing the legacy of immigrant foodways to our eating habits today. The book seemed to to end with a "plop!" rather than tying the themes together. Maybe in a later addition the author could remedy this lack.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Wandrwoman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an intensely personal book for me. My father was born in 95 Orchard Street, directly next door to what is today the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of New York City. The fourth child of immigrant parents, he was the first born in the US. A physician, a scientist, a bon vivant, my father was immensely proud of his heritage and of his Orchard Street-Lower East Side beginnings.

While growing up, I ate many of the same or similar foods that my parents ate as children, but to me, they were all jumbled up. I thought I knew the derivation of corned beef and cabbage, lasagna, fresh green salad, garlic dill pickles, rye bread and all the other foods put before me on the dining table. However, this book has been a real eye opener; an informative, nostalgic, and entertaining trip to my "roots".

Jane Ziegelman, the author of 97 Orchard, has written what is called "An Edible History" and it is just that. If one were to construct an immigrant-style recipe for this book one would perhaps say: "take a cup of history, a tablespoon each of sociology and anthropology, a pinch of original recipes, mix well, edit and print".

Five fascinating and interweaving chapters present the culinary history of five different immigrant families who resided in 97 Orchard Street over the course of a 70 year period. First the Glockner family from Germany, then the Moore's from Ireland, the German Jewish Gumpertz family, the Russian Jewish Rogarshevskys, and the Baldizzis from Italy each lived in the crowded tenement, and each contributed their culinary traditions to what we Americans eat today.
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