Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Mar 5, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 224 pages
4 Reviews
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The former owner/proprietor of the beloved appetizing store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side tells the delightful, mouthwatering story of an immigrant family’s journey from a pushcart in 1907 to “New York’s most hallowed shrine to the miracle of caviar, smoked salmon, ethereal herring, and silken chopped liver” (The New York Times Magazine).
When Joel Russ started peddling herring from a barrel shortly after his arrival in America from Poland, he could not have imagined that he was giving birth to a gastronomic legend. Here is the story of this “Louvre of lox” (The Sunday Times, London): its humble beginnings, the struggle to keep it going during the Great Depression, the food rationing of World War II, the passing of the torch to the next generation as the flight from the Lower East Side was beginning, the heartbreaking years of neighborhood blight, and the almost miraculous renaissance of an area from which hundreds of other family-owned stores had fled.
Filled with delightful anecdotes about how a ferociously hardworking family turned a passion for selling perfectly smoked and pickled fish into an institution with a devoted national clientele, Mark Russ Federman’s reminiscences combine a heartwarming and triumphant immigrant saga with a panoramic history of twentieth-century New York, a meditation on the creation and selling of gourmet food by a family that has mastered this art, and an enchanting behind-the-scenes look at four generations of people who are just a little bit crazy on the subject of fish.

Color photographs © Matthew Hranek


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bostonian71 - LibraryThing

Fun read, if a bit repetitive. Federman is at his best when telling stories about the Russ family and the customers they serve, though there are complaints about various members of both groups (some ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mielniczuk - LibraryThing

Fell in love with the place on a visit -- and before I read the book. Russ and his family's approach to business became even more impressive with reading the book. Book includes classic recipes that you forgot to write down from mom. Read full review


Mushroom Barley Soup
The Extended Family
From Pushcart to Posh
What Wesell
All Year Round
Our Way
A Burden or a Blessing Kvetch or Kwell

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About the author (2013)

Mark Russ Federman, grandson of founder Joel Russ, took over the running of Russ & Daughters from his parents in 1978 and turned it over to the fourth generation, his daughter, Niki, and nephew Josh, in 2009. He has appeared individually and on panels at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, and the conference of the Association of Food Journalists, among other venues. Mark and Russ & Daughters were most recently featured on the PBS documentary The Sturgeon Queens; on Lidia Bastianich’s PBS series Lidia Celebrates America; and on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

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