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New Haven’s Dashed American Dream

As a young man, Jim Goldberg, the acclaimed Magnum photographer, had an ambition: “to get out of New Haven as soon as I could.” As he explains in his vivid new photographic memoir, “Candy,” the Goldberg family business was candy distribution, and New Haven during his childhood, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, was an old American port city hustling into the future. The so-called Model City for urban renewal had an ambitious mayor, Richard Lee, who hoped to create the country’s first “slumless city.” Money and ideas poured into town…

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The Inflated Promise of the American Food Hall

In 2010, the chef Todd English opened an indoor market in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, in Manhattan. Back then, the term “food hall” was still largely alien to many Americans. It belonged to Britain, to describe the section of a department store where one might buy tins of loose-leaf tea and Christmas hampers, or pause for a glass of champagne. Todd English’s version stuck close to that mold, mirroring “the aesthetics of the finest food-specialty markets throughout the world,” and it was an overwhelming success. In its wake,…

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The Great American Poet of Daily Chores

In November of 1963, A. R. Ammons, known to family and friends as Archie, the author of a single, privately printed book of poems and a manager at his father-in-law’s glass factory, picked up a roll of adding-machine tape at a local store and began to “contemplate . . . some fool use for it.” Back home, Ammons threaded the roll of tape into his Underwood typewriter and, beginning on December 6th, sat down to write a poem that recorded his daily impressions. The poem’s margins were set by the tape’s width, about…

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American Foods to Be Thankful For: The Parable of the Non-Kosher Turkey

Each Thanksgiving, my family travels to Westchester, out to the sprawling exurbs where John Cheever’s characters held their fabulous, wanton cocktail parties. We go to my cousin Ellie’s house, and we always schlep along our own kosher turkey from the New Jersey suburbs. Ellie is in her eighties—no one is sure precisely how far in—and for my whole life her grand farmhouse has been a shorthand for glamour. She is my grandmother’s sister’s daughter, my first cousin once removed, but precise relations matter little given her undeniable, matriarchal control over…

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The Science of The American Pie

The term American Pie refers to the type of fruit-filled pie that typically cheers our autumn and winter evenings. The recipe for our pie is quite simple but so dependent on a series of chemical and physical processes that it does not take much to spoil the result. How to make the American Pie Crust To make the pie crust, you need half a kilo of flour, 250 grams of butter, 50 grams of sugar, one spoonful of cider vinegar, a pinch of salt and 120 grams of cold tap water….

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The Invisible Face of the American Worker Is Made Stunningly Visible in This New Show

Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, likes to tell a story about a plumber’s visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1897. “He wasn’t dressed appropriately, he had come into the museum in his overalls on a break from his job on Park Avenue,” Moss says. He was turned away. The Met’s director at the time declared, “We do not want, nor will we, permit a person who has been digging in a filthy sewer or working among grease and oil…

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