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Description de l’éditeur
New York is not a city for growing and manufacturing food. It’s a money and real estate city, with less naked earth and industry than high-rise glass and concrete. Yet in this intimate, visceral, and beautifully written book, Robin Shulman introduces the people of New York City - both past and present - who do grow vegetables, butcher meat, fish local waters, cut and refine sugar, keep bees for honey, brew beer, and make wine. In the most heavily built urban environment in the country, she shows an organic city full of intrepid and eccentric people who want to make things grow. What’s more, Shulman artfully places today’s urban food production in the context of hundreds of years of history, and traces how we got to where we are.
In these pages meet Willie Morgan, a Harlem man who first grew his own vegetables in a vacant lot as a front for his gambling racket. And David Selig, a beekeeper in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn who found his bees making a mysteriously red honey. Get to know Yolene Joseph, who fishes crabs out of the waters off Coney Island to make curried stews for her family. Meet the creators of the sickly sweet Manischewitz wine, whose brand grew out of Prohibition; and Jacob Ruppert, who owned a beer empire on the Upper East Side, as well as the New York Yankees.
Eat the City is about how the ability of cities to feed people has changed over time. Yet it is also, in a sense, the story of the things we long for in cities today: closer human connections, a tangible link to more basic processes, a way to shape more rounded lives, a sense of something pure.
Of course, hundreds of years ago, most food and drink consumed by New Yorkers was grown and produced within what are now the five boroughs. Yet people rarely realize that long after New York became a dense urban agglomeration, innovators, traditionalists, migrants and immigrants continued to insist on producing their own food. This book shows the perils and benefits—and the ironies and humor—when city people involve themselves in making what they eat.
Food, of course, is about hunger. We eat what we miss and what we want to become, the foods of our childhoods and the symbols of the lives we hope to lead. With wit and insight, Eat the City shows how in places like New York, people have always found ways to use their collective hunger to build their own kind of city.
ROBIN SHULMAN is a writer and reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, the Guardian, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.
A New York journalist takes a fondly nostalgic, immensely useful look at half a dozen key food commodities that used to be vital to the economic makeup of New York City and are making a comeback: the subtitle says it all, A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York. Not so long ago some combination of the city's bustling five boroughs produced the largest markets for the country's vegetables, processed meats, sugar, beer, fish, and wine (kosher), yet space constrictions and gentrification gradually eclipsed most of them, until a certain recent strain of committed urban farmer found ways to bring them back. Shulman surveys each of these markets in turn, starting with honey, whose hives were outlawed in 1999, allowed again since 2010, thanks to the city's active beekeeper's association and dozens of vibrant species of bees that supplement their nectar diet with spilled Cokes and Red Dye No. 40 from the nearby Brooklyn maraschino cherry factory. In Harlem she tracked an "agronomist-about-town" who has grown all kinds of vegetables in stray plots over 40 years; in Queens, she visited immigrant-run slaughterhouses that let the customers choose the animals first, the Old World way; and in Brooklyn she uncovered the story of sugar as once the city's most important industry. Shulman was heartened to find four breweries struggling to operate (where there used to be 125), and she noted how all over the city, people continue stubbornly to fish. Shulman's playful m lange of history and journalism celebrates the city's return as a neighborhood food festival.