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A Conversation on Depression and Robin Williams with the Swerdlows

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Did you know that gangsters controlled nearly all of the food distribution in Depression-era New York City? This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio invites Andy Coe to talk about racketeering in New York City food history. Learn how something as innocent as an egg cream was the cause of major crime. Find out what products were controlled by specific gangsters, and how the food rackets weren't eliminated from the Big Apple until the days of Giuliani! Learn about Murder Inc., and how competition was dealt with in the 1940s. Calling all fans of The Godfather: you don't want to miss this installment of A Taste of the Past! This program has been sponsored by The Heritage Meat Shop. Music has been provided by SNOWMINE.

"Today we have supermarkets and bodegas, and the food appears on the shelves and we don't really know where it comes from... Back then, food distribution was much more spread out." [7:45]

-- Andy Coe on A Taste of the Past


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This week's episode of A Taste of the Past is a dedication to Craig Claiborne, legendary New York Times restaurant critic. Linda Pelaccio is talking with Tom McNamee, author of the recent Craig Claiborne-focused book, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat. When Craig Claiborne began his career, there was no outlet for critical review of restaurant and food culture. Tune in to hear about how Craig Claiborne transformed The New York Times' food coverage into the critical lens that it is known to be today. Hear about how he brought the star rating system for restaurants to the United States, and how he introduced American households to multitudes of ethnic cuisines. If you think some restaurants are extravagantly priced, listen in to hear about a meal that Mr. Claiborne shared with chef Pierre Franey that cost roughly $20,000 in today's currency. Hear more about the fascinating life and work of Craig Claiborne in this week's episode of A Taste of the Past! This episode was sponsored by White Oak Pastures

"I think it's important to realize what the American context was at the time. It was just shortly after World War II, and industrialized food was in a huge upsurge... it was an absolute wasteland in American food!"

"He was bringing strange things to The New York Times' readership immediately in his first column."

"He kept constantly bringing in the 'outer world', and therefore a lot of things that we take for granted [he introduced in our culture]."

-- Tom McNamee on A Taste of the Past


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