Staying on top of NYC’s frenetic dining scene is fun for sport, but sometimes it’s good to step back and think about how this culinary playground developed in the first place.

Enter Forgotten Foods of New York, a fascinating oral history project by writer Anne Noyes Saini. She has been interviewing elderly New Yorkers about their food memories from the early-to-mid 20th century, covering the gamut from Chinese immigrants learning to cook in lower Manhattan, to tales of shopping at the German butcher shops of old Yorkville.

If you’re into food history, make sure you’ve got time to go down the the rabbit hole before starting to listen to these. It’s great stuff.

Soda Fountain Memories

Automat Baked Beans and Childs’ Chocolate Syrup

Puerto Rican Food on the Lower East Side

[via NPR]