Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
The Brooklyn Cookbook (Knopf Cooks American Series)
Published: September 10, 1991
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Brooklyn is a melting pot unto itself. Settled by the Dutch and then home to waves of immigrants, including the Irish, Jews, Scandinavians, Italians, Germans, Poles, Hispanics, African Americans, Greeks, and Middle Easterners, the borough is
rich in culinary history. Lauding that history, Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy Jr.'s The Brooklyn Cookbook explores in 250 recipes Brooklyn's "hometown" cooking. Replete with nostalgic photos, it also chronicles, in the words of Brooklynites themselves,
a larger cultural heritage. Readers who enjoy social-culinary history, and those who relish the diverse, nurturing dishes of everyday urban life, will embrace the book.
Dividing its recipes and recollections among chapters such as Resorts and
Neighborhoods, Nationalities, and Brewed, Made, Sold, and Served in Brooklyn, the book reminds us constantly that food is inseparable from the people who prepare and eat it. Here are Mrs. Stahl's Potato Cocktail Knishes, which she sold on the Boardwalk
during the Depression; Lundy's Manhattan Clam Chowder, the peerless brew of Brooklyn's famed Sheepshead Bay seafood house; Dee Dee Daily's Pigeon Peas and Rice, a Caribbean-Black American specialty; and Joe Romanelli's mamma's Pizza Rustica, prepared
while "pappa and my brothers would sit around drinking homebrew and playing pinochle." The recipes work for all cooks, but it is the stories behind them--"An Italian-American Dinner in 1960," for example, or "A Pail of Beer and Sauerbraten"--that make
the book a true culinary treasure. --Arthur Boehm
Brooklyn has been called the fourth largest city in America, and it is the Borough's claim that one out of every seven United States citizens has roots here. Brooklyn is
also America's most celebrated hometown. Everybody knows where it is (across that bridge), and almost everybody has an opinion about it: don't the people say "boid" and "toity-toid," and act argumentative, brassy, and sassy? Sure they do -- at least some
of them. They also say what they mean in other tongues, for groups from all over the world call Brooklyn home.
Brooklynites are fiercely loyal to neighborhood, family, and the food that nourishes them, body and soul. That is what this book
celebrates ... I can hear you asking, What is Brooklyn food? What makes it special? No one claims that we have the kind of food that characterizes a region, such as Boston baked beans, Maryland crab cakes, or Philadelphia cheese steak. What defines our
food is, in short, attitude and memory. The Brooklyn attitude is, "You respect me, I'll respect you; but believe me -- my neighborhood, and my food. is best." Memory ensures that the stories of good times, and the food that made them so, are passed along
to younger family members.
The neighborhoods are distinct, but they are ever changing. Where most immigrants once came largely from Europe, they now arrive from the Caribbean and Asia. Formerly Scandinavian Bay Ridge is now home to Greeks,
Chinese, and the fastest-growing group of Middle Easterners anywhere. Brooklyn is by no means all blue collar (it never was); Wall Streeters and other executive types appreciate the wonderful houses and tree-lined streets. They have their foodways,
Thomas Wolfe, a writer who once lived in Brooklyn, was wrong: you can go home again, home to the Brooklyn that lives in the rich memories and cherished recipes of the sons and daughters of the Borough. As we who live on the eastern side of
the Brooklyn Bridge say, come on over!
to feeding the Dodgers and the Polar Bear swimmers who brave the icy waters of the Atlantic all winter -- with wonderful nostalgic photographs. Family, tradition, and neighborhood are at the heart of Brooklyn
life. And it is the food -- reflected in the kinds of recipes gathered here -- that expresses these values.
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