Shopping for Dinner in Italian Red Hook, 1937

A shopping tour in Italian Red Hook included all types of food: snails, fresh vegetables, rabbit, squab, octopus, cheese, olive oil, beans, and garlic. Throughout the 1900s , Red Hook had a very large Italian population, many of whom earned their livelihoods in maritime trades.

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A shopping tour for, the family dinner ought to begin the right way in Red Hook and charms and amulets have their uses as the tray of them above suggests.

 And fresh vegetables should be kept fresh and the watering can does its duty all day long.  Italians are choosey buyers.

 Everybody laughs at 'aglio.' which is, of course, garlic, but all cooks, no matter of what derivation nationally, know what garlic means to cooking.

 They eat well down Red Hook way. Above is a particular delicacy—-'lumache, ' which is to say snails. They're good, too.

 "Polipo" or octopus to you, is another highly esteemed dish. First you boil it, then you steam it, cut it up in bits, smother it in sauce. Swell fish course.

 Beans are beans the world over, but the Italians think 'lupini' are extra special. Can be fixed all sorts of ways, according to cook's liking and the family's.

 Doughballs, cooked in hot olive oil, sprinkled with sugar, sell for a penny each to hungry shoppers.

 And who is there who doesn't like a fine stew of the tempting 'coniglio, ' know n elsewhere as the rabbit or bunny? You can buy them alive, be sure your stew will have fresh meat, in Red Hook.

 'Piccioni' en casserole or in a pie is a dish fit to be set before a king. Pigeons have always had a proud place on the menu of the epicure. And as for squabs…

 A cloudy, whitish drink, flavored with almonds served cold, is pretty good, too , on a hot day, on a rainy day, on a cold day, on any old kind of a day.

 'Olio d'olive ' (which is exactly what it sound s like— olive oil) is to Italian cooking what butter is to Southern kitchens, lard to thrifty Down East housewives.

 'Provoloni' is a" cheese with a tang, used to top off a hearty meal with a glass of wine, perhaps an apple or a pear besides. Something like American cheese.

 Bargaining is the soul of buying in Red Hook, but shop proprietors have their ways of setting out goods to tempt even the jaded palate, which is a Red Hook rarity.

 Seeing is believing, and 'coeomeri' are more convincing if one of them is cut open, to show the squash's insides. Heaped besides them are "melenzane" (egg plants).

 Real American touch is the little boy selling paper market bags. Paper bags are thing they don't use much in Italy, but in the New World, well...


Sep. 12, 1937


  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1937

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