I live on a farm, growing a huge plot of fresh veggies. My husband's family owns a dairy farm, so fresh milk is readily available. Soon, we hope to try making cheese. If I want honey, I can contact an area beekeeper and get raw honey, which hopefully, keeps my allergies at a minimum. My grandfather was a wine and beer meister. He grew a variety of grapes and used local ingredients to concoct a wide array of products. (He even made wine from musk thistles, and my favorite was an onion-garlic mix that made the perfect marinade.)
But if I didn't live in a rural area, would I have similar opportunities? If I lived in my state's largest city, would I find fresh veggies and fruit, raw honey, fresh fish? If I lived in NYC or Chicago or LA, would I be able to see people work the land, producing food?
Robin Shulman shares the story of food growers—people who raise vegetable gardens, fish for crabs, make beer—in the heart of New York City in her book Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Bee Keepers, Wine Makers, and Brewers Who Built New York.
I've always known that food is more about cooking and putting fork to mouth. Food is about the connections, the relationships built and cultivated from a love of food, the collective history of our eating patterns and the search for foodstuff.
Two elements impress me about Shulman's investigative work. First, she creates a historic document about food production and manufacturing and shows how its shifted landscape through the years. Second, she opens up the city that never sleeps, making it personable and relative to anyone who enjoys bringing food to the table.
Review by LuAnn Schindler.
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We are giving away a copy of Eat the City (Crown, July 2012; hardcover 352 pages; list price $26) to one lucky reader. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Open to US and Canada.
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