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Eat the City    by Robin Shulman order for
Eat the City
by Robin Shulman
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

As the author states, Eat the City is 'A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York'.

That pretty much wraps up this intriguing story of how different crafts and trades built the city of New York, with their skills defining them. They brought those skills with them from the countries they left behind.

Did you know there are beekeepers in New York City? I didn't. Never gave it a thought. There are hives on rooftops, backyards, alleyways, almost anywhere there is room. And each of those hives produces honeys flavored with whatever wildflowers are growing in the cracks in pavements and vacant lots throughout the city and are available to the bees. Intriguing.

Can you believe that as late as the 1950s, cattle were herded through the streets of Manhattan? And beer that was home brewed in many a basement eventually led to thriving businesses? How about the homemade wine fermenting in many a basement? Same story. Vacant lots are as likely to be producing fresh, organic vegetables as trash and rubble.

The United States is a world melting pot. As such, it includes many, many immigrants who bring to the country their ethnic foods and drink. These items eventually become a part of U.S. culture. Eat the City by Robin Schulman is the story of how this came to be.

Focusing on honey, vegetables, meat, sugar, beer, fish, and wine, she, at times, goes back to the founding fathers' time and works her way forward. Her research must have been exhausting but fascinating. Not only interested in how these things helped to build a city, she is also concerned about the environment. Her discourse on the waters that surround the island is most troubling.

We, the people of this country are killing the land and waters and don't seem to be concerned, except for the few who plead for us to listen. They are our modern day heroes. Eat the City is a magnificent book.

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