Friday, September 17, 2010

97 Orchard

While browsing through the library's list of recent acquisitions for ideas for September's book of the month, I came across one that sounded absolutely fascinating...

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman
An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement

Today 97 Orchard Street is the site of New York City's Tenement Museum. For many years, though, it was but one of the thousands of tenements housing working-class immigrants on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

97 Orchard tells the story of five families who lived at that address between 1863 and 1935, focusing specifically on their culinary lives. While 97 Orchard is more about the foods eaten in the Lower East Side than the families themselves, it is still a fascinating read.

How various immigrant groups were subsumed into and helped to redefine American culture is the overarching theme of 97 Orchard. By using food as the means to explore the topic, author Jane Ziegelman highlights the relationship between our culinary heritage and American identity.

For more information on the book and its subject, listen to Guy Raz of NPR's All Things Considered, interview the author or visit the Tenement Museum's virtual tour of 97 Orchard Street.

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