The following post is by Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, the editors of Gastropolis: Food and New York City.
You can join the editors and contributors of Gastropolis next Friday, December 5th at 6:30pm at the Astor Center for an evening of New York City food history, delicious savories, and good wine. Use the promotional code CUPBOOK to save 25% on tickets when you order them online
Holiday season is here. For Thanksgiving, Chef Jon readies an extended family feast. This year’s menu, braised turkey (done that way before Mark Bittman said to!), cornbread stuffing, Jamie Oliver’s spicy squash (Jon is a big fan of vegetable dishes calling for bacon), escarole cooked in turkey juice and garlic, cranberry orange sauce, salad and best of all, pies baked and sold by his students at Kingsborough (Jon’s not into baking but is happy to teach others).
Bundles of “sale fliers” arrive at our doorsteps. Annie pulls out the circulars for her neighborhood food stores and does what she’s done for the past four decades, described in her chapter, “My Little Town: A Brooklyn Girl’s Food Voice”; scans the papers and makes a shopping list based on sale items. She and her kids will go to Key Food, Pathmark, and Fairway, much like she and her Mom went to Bohack and A & P in Park Slope in the 1960’s and ’70’s for what will form the foundation of family meals in the week to come. These purchased foods will be punctuated by family-grown vegetables (at this writing, tomatoes picked pre-first-frost-green at the end of Flatbush Ave., slowly turning pink to red, along with fish that her brother, Rob hopes to catch on an offshore trip beginning Thanksgiving night after his birthday celebration family dinner).
These holiday sale circulars somehow always feature mozzerella, ricotta and canned tomatoes at “can’t be beat” prices. The trio lends itself, with a few other items, to a lasagne, whose major ingredient for some is its symbolic meaning. In “Cosa Mangia Oggi” Annie Lanzillotto’s food voice narrative in Gastropolis, the “stratification of muzzaRRELL, grating cheese, pasta, chopped meat, garlic, parsley, sausage, basil, rigGUTH” cemented her family in all their up and down days; holidays, absence of a son to Vietnam, celebration of his return and more. That multi-layered lasagne was essential at holiday meals. One Christmas at the very end, though, its mortar failed to glue her family and it sat alone in the oven as people abandoned the table and scattered.
The food voice narratives of these two Annies are parts of Gastropolis that speak to New Yorkers and the many facets of New York food life: history, land and water use, immigration, neighborhoods, restaurants, food making and its trade, olfaction, archeology, fusion, and hunger.