Paul Freedman’s gorgeously illustrated history is “an epic quest to locate the roots of American foodways and follow changing tastes through the decades, a search that takes [Freedman] straight to the heart of American identity” (William Grimes).
Hailed as a “grand theory of the American appetite” (Rien Fertel, Wall Street Journal), food historian Paul Freedman’s American Cuisine demonstrates that there is an exuberant, diverse, if not always coherent, American cuisine that reflects the history of the nation itself. Combining historical rigor and culinary passion, Freedman underscores three recurrent themes—regionality, standardization, and variety—that shape a “captivating history” (Drew Tewksbury, Los Angeles Times) of American culinary habits from post-colonial days to the present. The book is also filled with anecdotes that will delight food lovers:
· how dry cereal was created by William Kellogg for people with digestive problems;
· that Chicken Parmesan is actually an American invention;
· and that Florida Key-Lime Pie, based on a recipe developed by Borden’s condensed milk, goes back only to the 1940s.
A new standard in culinary history, American Cuisine is an “an essential book” (Jacques Pepin) that sheds fascinating light on a past most of us thought we never had.
About the Author
Paul Freedman is a history professor at Yale University. The author of the highly acclaimed Ten Restaurants That Changed America, Freedman lives in Pelham, New York.
Contrary to what sniffy foreign gourmets may believe, the United States does have its own cuisine, Freedman argues in this sprawling history. But it’s defined less by ingredients and recipes than by regionalism, modernity, and variety. Relying on sources that range from menus and cookbooks to the odd detective novel, he tracks the interaction among these forces from the colonial period to the present. . . . Gender and ethnicity figure intriguingly in the process.
— Lisa Abend - New York Times Book Review
In American Cuisine: And How It Got This Way, the Yale University history professor and culinary scholar eschews the banal, dish-centric narrative of countless similar titles to propose a grand theory of the American appetite.
— Rien Fertel - Wall Street Journal
In American Cuisine: And How It Got This Way, food historian Paul Freedman embarks on an ambitious exploration of a seemingly impossible question: What is American food? Combing through 200 years of cookbooks and archives, Freedman charts a captivating history of our country told through the meals we make.
— Drew Tewksbury - Los Angeles Times
A sweeping, thoroughly researched social and cultural history of America through its changing food habits and practices. . . . . Freedman also offers entertaining profiles of many notable chefs, including Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and René Redzepi, whose influences have reformed how many Americans eat. A spirited, abundantly illustrated food history.
— Kirkus Reviews
[A] significant, thoroughly researched survey of food and cooking in the U.S. . . . Both serious researchers and armchair readers will find education and amusement here.
Well-researched. . . . History buffs will dig into this astute culinary narrative.
— Publishers Weekly
[An] astute, well-researched exploration of American cuisine. . . . Purchase for medium and large collections where books about food history are in demand.
— Emily Patti - Library Journal
Although it is not easy to define, Yes! there is a genuine American Cuisine. In this essential book, Paul Freedman leads us from the food of colonial times to processed industrial food, to ethnic food, to the farm-to-table revolution of the 70s. American Cuisine is a brilliant synthesis which organizes the vast, eclectic, mixed American cooking into a comprehensive, coherent, credible and unified entity.
— Jacques Pepin
Drawing on copious research—and encouraged, clearly, by an excellent appetite—Paul Freedman has untangled the messy strands of nostalgia and speculation that spill across culinary history like a vast helping of spaghetti and come up with a wonderfully engaging study of Americans at table. Anyone who wants to make sense of our edible past should start right here.
— Laura Shapiro, author of What She Ate
In American Cuisine, Paul Freedman embarks on an epic quest to locate the roots of American foodways and follow changing tastes through the decades, a search that takes him straight to the heart of American identity. It is an enormous, endlessly fascinating subject, and Freedman makes a wonderful tour guide, scholarly and wry.
— William Grimes, former New York Times restaurant critic
Given the old adage “you are what you eat,” American Cuisine, with thoughtful assessments combined with marvelous illustrations, is a mirror reflecting back, helping explain the current abundant yet problematic landscape of American food.
— Amy Bentley, Professor of Food Studies at NYU
Through my fifty years as an Italian chef in America I have followed the evolution of American cuisine and have always wanted to know ever more about its origin, flavors and recipes. Paul Freedman has fulfilled my quest to know more. This is a brilliant book—extensive and detailed—with in-depth research about the chronological journey of American cuisine from the pioneers to the present.
— Lidia Bastianich, author of My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food
Shattering holy ideas about our national fare, Paul Freedman’s American Cuisine shows that we have not yet fully emerged from the unhealthy weight of food industrialization, brutal marketing lies, and fake “traditions” meant to divide us. Hearty food for thought.
— Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network54