The Way We Ate: 100 Chefs Celebrate a Century at the American Table

Fecks, Noah & . Touchstone. Oct. 2013. 368p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781476732725. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781476732756. COOKING
Celebrated bloggers and food photographers Fecks and Wagtouicz have dreamed up an interesting idea here: 100 chefs have created recipes to represent each year of the 20th century. The authors have gathered a group of impressive chefs and notable personalities, including Jacques Pépin, Melissa Clark, Daniel Boulud, Jasper White, and José Andrés. The book highlights some fascinating tidbits of history from the last century, such as the cultivation of the Hass avocado and the invention of the first electric ice cream machine. However, somehow, this work never quite comes together. The relationships between the recipes and historical events are often unclear, and many of the recipes are unrealistic for a home cook, calling for hard-to-find ingredients and offering vague instructions. The recipes would have benefited from a consistent voice and additional notes on technique and ingredients.
VERDICT Neither a coherent history nor a useful cookbook. This title is a mildly entertaining read, and its photographs and design are beautiful, but after admiring its style, home cooks will find themselves putting it back on the shelf.
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