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Cookbook: Where to Dine in Thirty-Nine

By on Tuesday, May 31st, 2022 at 8:48 am | 744 views

Where to dine in thirty-nine is an essential cookbook of the era

New York City has always been a city of restaurants. Diane Ashley collected recipes from restaurants across the city offering a unique snapshot of what diners were eating.

The cookbook divides the restaurants up by ethnicity. The first two sections are classified as general with or without music and entertainment. These are places like hotels or steakhouses like Peter Luger’s. The food is generally northern Euro-centric.

The book also has sections for Chinese, East Indian, Japanese, Jewish, Russian, Spanish and Mexican, and subsections for Northern European cuisines like German, Swedish, and French.

There is no distinction between Italian-American and Italian restaurants yet — the idea of authentic Italian food has not entered into the cultural zeitgeist. Ashley lists Barbetta, Capri, Caruso, Colucci, Guido, Little Venice, Moneta,Mother Bertolotti, Nino-Nella, Pietro, and Zucca as Italian restaurants and provides recipes from each.

Each of the restaurants includes a brief description and commentary, like Capri’s on 52nd Street. Ashley calls it “A NICE LITTEL SPOT!” Following the description, the collection includes a recipe. Fra diavolo, Spaghetti Caruso, veal “parmiggiana,” and more.

The book provides a glimpse of the sort of food restaurants were serving at the time. Although its likely these recipes were adapted for home cooks, it also shows how the dishes were prepared in the pre-war period.