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Flatbush + Main Episode 09: Food and Identity, Brooklyn Style

By Julie Golia

Posted on December 20, 2016


In Episode 09 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia dig into their most delicious topic yet: food and identity in Brooklyn. They speak to historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman to find out exactly what a historical gastronomist is, and to learn about some ingredients that have shaped the course of American history. In “Into the Archives,” they explore a 19th-century recipe book created by two generations of Brooklyn women and think about gender roles, the politics of food preparation, and the preservation of Dutch culture in Flatbush. Finally, they listen to a clip from the oral history of Ericka Basile, a Brooklynite of African, French and Taíno ancestry. Basile reflects on the ways that Creole food informed her childhood, her relationships, and her identity. In their endorsements, Julie and Zaheer share some of the foods that have shaped who they are today. We’d love to hear about how food has shaped your identity. Share your food memories by using the hashtag #flatbushandmain.

For complete show notes, go to


02:53 – Histories and Ideas: Interview with Sarah Lohman
16:51 – Into the Archives: Mrs. Lefferts’s Book
29:23 – Voices of Brooklyn: Ericka Basile
36:02 – Preview of January 11, 2017 Flatbush + Main Live Event
39:31 – Julie’s and Zaheer’s Favorite Foods

Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

Sarah Lohman is a historical gastronomist. Her book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, was published by Simon and Schuster this month. Buy it here.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

You can peruse all of Mrs. Lefferts’s Book here. If you want to come into the BHS archives to examine it and other Lefferts related documents, start with the finding aid for the Lefferts family papers.

To learn more about the Lefferts family and their impact on Brooklyn, explore BHS’s digital exhibition, An American Family Grows in Brooklyn: The Lefferts Family Papers.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

Listen to Ericka Basile’s full oral history and access more information about the interview here.

Basile was interviewed as part of a 2011-2014 oral history and public programming project called Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations, which examined the history and experiences of mixed-heritage people and families, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity, and identity in Brooklyn.

Explore the finding aid for the CBBG oral history collection here.


Segment 4: Endorsements

On Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 6:30pm, Zaheer and Julie will co-host “Civic Responsibility Then and Now: A View from the Archives,” an event at BHS. Tickets are $5 for non-members (free for members!) Purchase tickets here. The event will be recorded live for our January episode. We hope to see a lot of our listeners there!

On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, BHS will welcome Michael Woodsworth to talk about his new book, Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City. The event is at 6:30, and tickets are $10 (free for members). Purchase tickets here.

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