American Cuisine: And How It Got This Way

Liveright: Norton. Oct. 2019. 528p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781631494628. $39.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631494635. COOKING
Freedman (history, Yale Univ; Ten Restaurants That Changed America) begins this astute, well-researched exploration of American cuisine by asserting that while the United States lacks a definitive “repertoire of recognized dishes” in comparison with other nations, it does indeed exist, and should not be defined by hamburgers and hot dogs alone. Following the evolution of American cuisine from Colonial America, to the rise and decline of American regional cuisines, to the epic “golden age of food processing,” Freedman provides interesting insights on the cultural impact of these shifts and the societal and historical events that preceded them. Images of menus, vintage advertisements, articles, and recipes from community cookbooks enhance the project, which includes Freeman’s reflections on the current state of American cuisine and its future. He writes that while the farm-to-table movement may have gone mainstream and Americans are increasingly seeking out alternative brands with a perceived message, convenience and reliability will continue to be the key determinant for many consumers at the grocery store and at meal time.
VERDICT Purchase for medium and large collections where books about food history are in demand.

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