Flux Capacitors & Old New York
If you could be dropped at any point in time perhaps you would find yourself in Kitty Hawk NC as the Wright brothers made an historic flight, or watching as Italian Renaissance Artist, Michael Angelo crafted the Pietà. One of the many places we here at Famighetti would love to have seen and experienced would be the lower east side (as well as Spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan) of New York in the mid to late 1800s. There you would have found beautiful, impressionistic cultures of aspiring immigrants, ethnic groceries and the beginning of many epicurean traditions. But life back then was not as easy as strolling over to a modern open air market to make dinner. For many in New York, eating was a process that was only completed after the Mother of a home had procured the necessary ingredients to make the meals. These budgeted meals, which were bought on store credit, were typically both delicious and reminiscent of their particular home country. For the women of the home this was a tall order which started with descending stairs typically with children and something to carry their groceries in. The markets were far from pristine as dirt, food debris and mud were a regular, making your choice for clothing far from your "Sunday best." As you arrived, you would have been greeted by rows of individual stalls, with the smells perhaps of wood, kerosene, cigars and of course fruits, vegetables, dairy products and fish. Once shopping was accomplished there was the walk back to the tenements and typically a climb from one to four flights of stairs with groceries and children. Common menus included stews (which could be stretched for longer than one meal (if perhaps it was winter when the stairwell, fire escape or temporary "ice box" could be utilized) and pies that included everything from dinner foods to cherry and lemon desserts. Meat and potato leftovers were often converted to hash which was a compressed composite of both. But making the food was not the only work. Wood for burning and cooking, water for washing and cleansing dishes meant you made the best of your meals and minimized any waste. Efficiency was king and stewardship a must for any Mother running a home. Today we have gleaned recipes, traditions and ideas from our hard working, immigrant forefathers and Mothers who paved the way for us. By virtue of necessity, they invented, created and handed down to us the ideas for modern open air markets, traditional recipes, and family oriented meals. And today we long for that culture, that desire for community where we knew the local grocer, butcher or baker. Cheers to getting some of that back and honoring those who forged these beautiful traditions.