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Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York

de William Grimes

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941221,899 (3.38)5
New York is the greatest restaurant city the world has ever seen. InAppetite City, the formerNew York Timesrestaurant critic William Grimes leads us on a grand historical tour of New York's dining culture. Beginning with the era when simple chophouses and oyster bars dominated the culinary scene, he charts the city's transformation into the world restaurant capital it is today.Appetite Citytakes us on a unique and delectable journey, from the days when oysters and turtle were the most popular ingredients in New York cuisine, through the era of the fifty-cent French and Italian table d'hôtes beloved of American "Bohemians," to the birth of Times Square--where food and entertainment formed a partnership that has survived to this day. Enhancing his tale with more than one hundred photographs, rare menus, menu cards, and other curios and illustrations (many never before seen), Grimes vividly describes the dining styles, dishes, and restaurants succeeding one another in an unfolding historical panorama: the deluxe ice cream parlors of the 1850s, the boisterous beef-and-beans joints along Newspaper Row in the 1890s, the assembly-line experiment of the Automat, the daring international restaurants of the 1939 World's Fair, andthe surging multicultural city of today. By encompassing renowned establishments such as Delmonico's and Le Pavillon as well as the Bowery restaurants where a meal cost a penny, he reveals the ways in which the restaurant scene mirrored the larger forces shaping New York, giving us a deliciously original account of the history of America's greatest city. Rich with incident, anecdote, and unforgettable personalities,Appetite Cityoffers the dedicated food lover or the casual diner an irresistible menu of the city's most savory moments.… (mais)
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I was expecting a lot more out of this book. In particular, more "why" and "to what end" and "with what consequences." Instead, Grimes' treatment of the history of NYC restaurants is, for the most part, a series of descriptions of a relatively small number of institutions. The beginning of the book starts well, talking about how the first modern restaurants start to appear, serving chops and oysters, and how French restaurant culture permeates the growing city. But then follows a tedious chronological review of the major high-end restaurants, ending with a rather self-serving description of food culture in the 1990s and 2000s, from the point of view of a NY Times restaurant reviewer. I would have much rather have seen a differently-structured book, perhaps with separate chapters each taking the entire 200+ years of history from different points of view. What happened to French restaurants over that 200 years? What happened to seafood? What happened to Chinese restaurants, or locally-grown produce (I happen to know that in the early 1900s, Chinese farmers in Queens used to grow vegetables for Chinatown!), or low-end New York food like pizza and hot dogs? That's the book I wanted to read. ( )
  Harlan879 | Feb 7, 2010 |
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In the late 1820s, a Columbia College student by the name of Sam Ward often stepped into a small cafe in lower Manhattan for a bite to eat.
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New York is the greatest restaurant city the world has ever seen. InAppetite City, the formerNew York Timesrestaurant critic William Grimes leads us on a grand historical tour of New York's dining culture. Beginning with the era when simple chophouses and oyster bars dominated the culinary scene, he charts the city's transformation into the world restaurant capital it is today.Appetite Citytakes us on a unique and delectable journey, from the days when oysters and turtle were the most popular ingredients in New York cuisine, through the era of the fifty-cent French and Italian table d'hôtes beloved of American "Bohemians," to the birth of Times Square--where food and entertainment formed a partnership that has survived to this day. Enhancing his tale with more than one hundred photographs, rare menus, menu cards, and other curios and illustrations (many never before seen), Grimes vividly describes the dining styles, dishes, and restaurants succeeding one another in an unfolding historical panorama: the deluxe ice cream parlors of the 1850s, the boisterous beef-and-beans joints along Newspaper Row in the 1890s, the assembly-line experiment of the Automat, the daring international restaurants of the 1939 World's Fair, andthe surging multicultural city of today. By encompassing renowned establishments such as Delmonico's and Le Pavillon as well as the Bowery restaurants where a meal cost a penny, he reveals the ways in which the restaurant scene mirrored the larger forces shaping New York, giving us a deliciously original account of the history of America's greatest city. Rich with incident, anecdote, and unforgettable personalities,Appetite Cityoffers the dedicated food lover or the casual diner an irresistible menu of the city's most savory moments.

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