On the Town in New York is Michael and Ariane Batterberry’s "Landmark History of Eating, Drinking, and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution." It is the classic culinary history of New York City, from 1776 to when the book was first published in 1973. The 25th anniversary edition adds a chapter on the era from about 1970 to 1998.
As the title suggests, the book is mostly about restaurant and hotel dining, not home cooking and not New York's agriculture or food production. This is about how people ate when they were On the Town, covering the transition from humble taverns to elaborate “pleasure gardens,” the rise of the grand hotels and the extravagant parties thrown in them, the evolution of tea rooms to lunch counters to automats, the influence of immigrant cooking, and development of New York’s modern restaurant scene.
There is a lot of information packed into this entertaining and encyclopedic book. The Batterberrys’ thorough research and love of their subject shows in the details they incorporate and the personalities they showcase. The inclusion of many historical pictures, including reproductions of famous menus, makes it even easier for the reader to appreciate this chronicle of New York’s food culture.
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The Batterberrys were the founders of Food & Wine Magazine. I first read about this book when Anthony Bourdain recommended it in Kitchen Confidential.
This counts as one of my books for the Foodie Reading Challenge, hosted by Margot at Joyfully Retired.
It also counts for the Mt. TBR, Off The Shelf, TBR Pile, and Non-Fiction, Non-Memoirs challenges.