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celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Friday, February 02, 2007

An Interview With Arthur Schwartz in Zeek


There is an interesting interview on the Zeek web site with Arthur Schwartz. He talks about the concept of food writing as a profession. Most interesting to me though is his deep knowledge of food history in New York City and his strong opinion on current food trends.

You know, after World War II, really from the 1930s through 1950s, mainstream New York menus had Jewish food on them. You could go to a mainstream restaurant where the appetizers were shrimp cocktail and gefilte fish. Or the soups would be mushroom barley and lobster bisque. Or underneath the grilled ham with pineapple was brisket. Every New Yorker ate these dishes. There were the assimilated Jews who ate shrimp cocktail and the gentiles who liked gefilte fish. And that doesn’t exist anymore. The ethnic blending is over in New York. Now it’s all 'chef food.' To me, food is not just something just to eat, it’s also a reflection of our culture. Of course the chef food is also a reflection of our culture. But it doesn’t speak well of our current culture [laughs], when I see Mario Batali on television boiling pasta in red wine and topping it with cranberries, it just doesn’t speak well. I enjoy food that has context and culture.

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