From Tzivi’s May ’11 Spotlight: On April 10, over 300 women in their best spring finery congregated at the Bryn Mawr Country Club in Lincolnwood for ORT’s annual fund raiser Lunch with a View. This year’s theme was “Savoring Our Traditions,” and the special guests were cookbook mavens Poopa Dweck (author of Aromas of Aleppo) and Jane Ziegelman (author of 97 Orchard).
Poopa said her husband Sam would roll his eyes whenever she told him that food was a pathway to world peace, but he stopped laughing when reporter Jon Fasman praised her for “an understanding of the need to understand” in his 2007 New York Times piece on “culinary orientalism.” Soon after, the Syrian ambassador to the United States invited her to breakfast and asked her to sign a copy of her book for Bashar al-Assad.
Jane is the director of the new culinary program at Manhattan’s Tenement Museum, and the subtitle of 97 Orchard is An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement. According to Jane, “Food was one facet of immigrant life that really captured the American imagination,” and the mass immigration of the early 20th Century collided with the birth of the new science of nutrition in ways that now seem comical. For example, pickles were classified as “stimulants” along with caffeine, tobacco, and opium!
But the effort to train young girls to serve bland foods like tomato soup and creamed chicken ultimately failed, and now, thanks to successive waves of immigration, “we are no longer afraid of flavor.”
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