Munching through New York's immigrant history

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At the rumbling corner of Delancey and Essex Streets in Manhattan's fabled Lower East Side, a sandal-footed, backpack-wearing Josh Wolff stands before his two-dozen charges and promises a real taste of the neighborhood.

"And since this is July," the tour guide says, "I assume you'll be getting the smells of the neighborhood as well."

On this steamy city afternoon, we find Wolff at the appointed corner, collecting $20 a head from a swarm of folks eager to explore enclaves thick with that most American of histories -- that of its immigrants.

It's the Original Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour, one of the most popular of the 30 or so led by Big Onion Walking Tours. And for good reason. The two-hour excursion takes us through the web of neighborhoods bite by bite, as we sample the cultural delicacies that tell the tale of a city that was, and is.

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