Sunday, January 29, 2017

Creating Context for Your Ancestor's Life: A History of Restaurants

I recently read an article about Italian restaurants in America that detailed a new book by historian Paul Freedman titled, "Ten Restaurants that Changed America."  The book explains the lives of Italian immigrants in New York City and how those new Americans adapted to life in the New World. Italians, according to the author, were much less likely to assimilate into the New York City culinary life.  Rather Italians made the conscious decision to teach their children to cook in the ways of the old country.

There were stark differences, however, mainly relating to the availability and variety of food products such as meat, butter and cheeses.  Many of us cherish our family recipes, but when considering the lives our ancestors led in America, it is worth considering how their eating habits changed and what that meant for families. While food facts may not add leaves to your family tree knowledge of food and the circumstances surrounding it will go a long way in understanding the fabric of the times.

Paul Freedman's book, published in 2016, can be found on Amazon or other book retailers.

 


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