Thursday, December 6, 2018
97 Orchard: by Jane Ziegelman
1) How did you find the style of Ziegelman’s writing? What is the most memorable thing that you learned from this book? What is the main point that you learned from reading the book?
2) Each of 97 Orchard’s five chapters contains in-depth descriptions of food typical to a particular immigrant group. Did you have a favorite section? If so, why?
3) Zielgelman ends her introduction by reminding us that modern food trends are also the result of immigration, saying “the culinary revolution that began in the nineteenth century continues today among immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, who have brought their food traditions to this country and continue to transform the way America eats” (xv). Do you know of examples of such new immigrant food? What about “old” immigrant food (German, Irish, Jewish, Eastern European, Italian)? Do they seem to follow the same timeline here in our city as in this book?
4) In chapter 2, a week’s grocery list for a typical Irish immigrant family contains more sugar than anything else besides potatoes (p. 62). In her discussion of the list, Ziegelman notes that sugar was used as a cheap source of calories,with sweetened tea staving off between-meal hunger. What does this practical practice in times of food scarcity have to do with today’s overabundance of sweetened drinks?
5) In chapter 3, Ziegelman discusses nineteenth century urban animal husbandry at length (p. 112-115). How does this compare to today’s trend of raising chickens and other small livestock in San Francisco and Oakland? What has enabled us, as a society, to come full circle and again embrace this practice?
6) In chapter 4, the East Side pushcart markets are described as both “garbage strewn streets aswirl with... mayhem” and “the most picturesque spots in New York,” embraced by Bohemian uptown visitors (p. 143). How do such markets, where tenement homemakers could find good quality food at the cheapest price, compare with today’s urban farmers’ markets? Where do today’s immigrants find affordable, culturally acceptable food?
7) The pushcart markets allowed early twentieth century New Yorkers who lacked access to in-home refrigeration a way to purchase fresh food (p.143). How has modern refrigeration changed urban access to food? Is today’s food fresher or less so? How has access to fresh food changed the lifestyles and health of urbanites?
8) Ziegelman writes of charity within the tenements, and how immigrants were both generous and accepting of it, while charity from without was a humiliating experience for them. Are there examples of this still happening today? (p. 157).
9) The Ellis Island Dining Room sounds like a place that welcomed detained immigrants and gave them a good meal before starting their new life in America or returning back to their former country (p. 126). In what ways do you think that experience affected their relocation, either way?
10) Before the turn of the century, a program teaching immigrant and native born American girls “domestic science” was started in the New York City public schools (p. 163). How did that and similar home economics programs in other American schools fare over the years? What, if any, similarities do today’s school gardens share these old programs?
I find the recipes in this book quite vague in regards to measuements and helpful things like that for acctually building a recipe.
I would like to have a theme of German food.
I will bring drinks!
Hope to see you all there!