by Slow Food USA staffer Jerusha Klemperer
I sat down with Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch over pancakes at the NYC icon Gastropolis: Food and New York City.
We may think of NYC’s iconic foods like knishes and egg creams (and diner pancakes) as fixed, but this collection of essays makes the case for the ability of each individual, each immigrant wave to leave its imprint on the ever-evolving foodscape of this city. In fact, the archaeological remains of old New Amsterdam itself reveal how shifting ecology, shifting economy, and shifting populations can change the course of eating history and culture.
Hauck-Lawson and Deutsch have put together a collection that ranges in tone and approach, from Jessica Harris’ story of her personal food heritage to a history of the streets’ peddlers and markets to an examination of Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights and its array of Central and South American cuisine. But it does not attempt to capture everything. The authors acknowledge the impossibility of that, instead presenting what they call “noshes,” little bits that ultimately fill you up as richly as a big meal.
“I would say that this book would be great required reading, especially for new New Yorkers,” Hauck-Lawson said, “as an accessible source of New York City food history and foodways and out of a measure of respect for the privilege of being a New Yorker.”