Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Come on down to Eiderdown in Germantown

Eiderdown, one of my favorite casual Louisville restaurants, seems a perfect fit for the city's Germantown neighborhood.  Here's the intro to my review for LEO Weekly and LouisvilleHotBytes.com this week. Hit the links at the end for the full report.

ImageIs Eiderdown German? Is Germantown German?
LEO's Eats with Robin Garr

Ah, Germantown, that lovable little urban neighborhood. Who can drive, stroll or bike through its tidy streets of shotgun houses and sturdy brick storefronts without feeling connected with our city’s German heritage? 

Don’t look too closely, though. Back in the day - way back in the day, the 1840s - a tide of German immigrants (and, a bit later, their Irish cousins) washed over Louisville, whose earlier first families, established and conservative folks of English stock, didn’t particularly welcome them.

The Germans ate funny food that reeked of cabbage. They drank beer, for God’s sake. And they spoke an odd, guttural language. What’s more, they were Catholic, and as refugees from Old Europe’s wars and kings, they were thought politically radical. 

Many of them settled in Butchertown, where on one of the city’s darkest days, “Bloody Monday” on Aug. 6, 1855, nativist Know-Nothing Party crowds celebrated a hot gubernatorial election by rioting, beating up German and Irish immigrants and setting fire to their houses, outraged by their audacity at planning to vote for the wrong guy.

It’s no surprise that the Germans soon decided to settle in a new neighborhood a bit farther southeast, where they could mind their own business. Never mind if it was so swampy and dank that people called the area “Frogtown,” it was their own.

It’s worth thinking about all this, the next time you settle down in the amiable precincts of Eiderdown, or many of its Germantown neighbors.