Feature

Also of interest ... in food and wine

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman; The Wild Vine by Todd Kliman; Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs; The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman
(Smithsonian, $25.99)
Jane Ziegelman “looks to food as a measure” of how different ethnic groups integrated into the American melting pot, said Elizabeth Toohey in The Christian Science Monitor. The title refers to the address of Manhattan’s Tenement Museum, where the author runs a culinary center. She traces Irish, Italian, German, and Russian-Jewish families who lived there between 1850 and the Great Depression, using the dishes they ate to craft a “unifying narrative” about how they became Americans.

The Wild Vine
by Todd Kliman
(Clarkson Potter, $25)
“Thorough research and entertaining spin” make Todd Kliman’s first book a real corker, said T. Rees-Shapiro in The Washington Post. The food writer unravels the tangled history of a little-known red wine varietal called Norton, which many think is America’s greatest native grape. His colorful cast includes the 19th-century doctor who bred the fruit, the bootleggers who kept the strain alive through the 1930s, and the wealthy Virginia “software guru” who recently has become “its greatest champion.”   

Twain’s Feast
by Andrew Beahrs
(Penguin Press, $25.95)
Andrew Beahrs’ first nonfiction work starts with a list of foods that Mark Twain once named as quintessentially American, said William Grimes in The New York Times. The author sets off on a cross-country journey to track those foods to their “native habitats.” He finds endangered prairie chicken in Illinois, tastes Arkansas raccoon, and visits a Nevada trout hatchery. Though it can be fun to follow along, this book is a “weird hybrid”—part travelogue, part literary study, part “culinary stunt book.”

The I Hate to Cook Book
by Peg Bracken
(Grand Central, $22.99)
“In 1960, women were almost universally expected to get dinner on the table every night,” said Gail Pennington in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Peg Bracken’s humorously written collection of easy recipes introduced housewives to the art of “feeding the family with little effort”—and gave them permission to have a cocktail while doing it. This 50th-anniversary reissue’s most dated aspect is the use of canned vegetables. But even readers with no intention of cooking from it “will enjoy the wry wit.”

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