New York City, without question America's food capital, has reveled in consumption from the outset. Beginning in the eighteenth century, citizens observed holidays with feasting and "drinking excessive amounts of liquor." The Erie Canal brought midwestern grain and meat to city dwellers, whose numbers began to swell with immigrant hordes who adapted American bounty to their native lands' culinary traditions. Germans taught Irish maids to cook more widely, and then Italians and Chinese introduced their own highly sophisticated kitchen techniques. Swelling merchant and manufacturing classes demanded French sophistication and elegant restaurant dining. Flocks of Eastern European Jews gave the city's boroughs the sort of delicatessen fare celebrated in literature, theater, and movies. New York's newspapers, broadcasters, and publishers further spread the city's culinary influence across the nation. Today, tens of thousands of restaurants, groceries, bakeries, and street-food stands continue to feed an ever-changing culinary landscape. Booklist Prolific writer/food historian Smith pens this entry into the 'Big City Food Biography' series with skill and intimacy. From bacteria to bagels and beyond, the book deftly navigates through centuries of cultural nuances brought about by swarms of immigrants and their traditions. Exploring food types, vending methods and restaurants, cooking techniques, historic menus, and even recipes, Smith touches upon a wide range of subjects, which could easily receive books of their own. Add politics, scientific discoveries, and chance to the work, and it quickly becomes evident that tracing the food history of any area, let alone New York, amounts to academic acrobatics...[R]eaders gain insights not only regarding food, but the social history inherent in lost establishments such as speed eateries, cafeterias, and banquet halls. In fact, by studying New York food history, one can view how the culture of New York itself was 'raised' in an anthropological sense. Summing Up: Recommended. All undergraduate or culinary school students; general audiences. CHOICE New York City: A Food Biography joins others in the 'Big City Food Biographies' series and is a recommendation for any college-level culinary collection strong in food studies, and for any surveying New York City in particular. This is the first food biography to trace the history of the city's innovations and influences, covering how its cuisine developed and expanded to cities around the world. It's a fine food history that covers everything from markets and fine dining to drinking establishments, and pairs vintage black and white photos with colorful descriptions of New York City's culinary evolution. A 'must' for any serious food history or New York City aficionado. Midwest Book Review Andrew Smith serves up a tantalizing smorgasbord of New York City history through the lens of food. His encyclopedic knowledge of food history, coupled with his ability to identify the geography, ethnicities, politics, businesses, and technologies that have made New York such a unique and fascinating venue for eating over the past 400 years, makes for delicious reading. -- Cathy Kaufman, chair, Culinary Historians of New York Smith's biography of the Big Apple is a revelation: an exquisitely researched and finely told tale of a city central to the culinary culture and economy of the United States if not the world. New York, New York, we hardly knew you. -- Michael Krondl, chef, food writer, and author of Around the American Table Andrew Smith does it again. Each time he takes on the challenge of a subject too big for any one author or any one book, he finds a way to square the circle. In New York City: A Food Biography, he both maps one of the world's most sprawling culinary terrains and points the way for future explorers. -- Doug Duda, former president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals
About the Author
Andrew F. Smith teaches food studies and professional food writing at the New School University in New York City. He is the author or editor of twenty-one books, including Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (2009), and serves as the editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America. He has written and lectured extensively about New York City food history.