New York City
A Food Biography
By (author) Andrew F. Smith
Publication date:26 November 2013
Length of book:210 pages
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers
New York City’s first food biography showcases all the vibrancy, innovation, diversity, influence, and taste of this most-celebrated American metropolis. Its cuisine has developed as a lively potluck supper, where discrete culinary traditions have survived, thrived, and interacted. For almost 400 years New York’s culinary influence has been felt in other cities and communities worldwide. New York’s restaurants, such as Delmonico’s, created and sustained haute cuisine in this country. Grocery stores and supermarkets that were launched here became models for national food distribution. More cookbooks have been published in New York than in all other American cities combined. Foreign and “fancy” foods, including hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, Waldorf salad, and baked Alaska, were introduced to Americans through New York’s colorful street vendors, cooks, and restaurateurs. As Smith shows here, the city’s ever-changing culinary life continues to fascinate and satiate both natives and visitors alike.
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.