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Eating History
Cover of Eating History
Eating History
Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine
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Food expert and celebrated food historian Andrew F. Smith recounts—in delicious detail—the creation of contemporary American cuisine. The diet of the modern American wasn't always as corporate, conglomerated, and corn-rich as it is today, and the style of American cooking, along with the ingredients that compose it, has never been fixed. With a cast of characters including bold inventors, savvy restaurateurs, ruthless advertisers, mad scientists, adventurous entrepreneurs, celebrity chefs, and relentless health nuts, Smith pins down the truly crackerjack history behind the way America eats.

Smith's story opens with early America, an agriculturally independent nation where most citizens grew and consumed their own food. Over the next two hundred years, however, Americans would cultivate an entirely different approach to crops and consumption. Advances in food processing, transportation, regulation, nutrition, and science introduced highly complex and mechanized methods of production. The proliferation of cookbooks, cooking shows, and professionally designed kitchens made meals more commercially, politically, and culturally potent. To better understand these trends, Smith delves deeply and humorously into their creation. Ultimately he shows how, by revisiting this history, we can reclaim the independent, locally sustainable roots of American food.

Food expert and celebrated food historian Andrew F. Smith recounts—in delicious detail—the creation of contemporary American cuisine. The diet of the modern American wasn't always as corporate, conglomerated, and corn-rich as it is today, and the style of American cooking, along with the ingredients that compose it, has never been fixed. With a cast of characters including bold inventors, savvy restaurateurs, ruthless advertisers, mad scientists, adventurous entrepreneurs, celebrity chefs, and relentless health nuts, Smith pins down the truly crackerjack history behind the way America eats.

Smith's story opens with early America, an agriculturally independent nation where most citizens grew and consumed their own food. Over the next two hundred years, however, Americans would cultivate an entirely different approach to crops and consumption. Advances in food processing, transportation, regulation, nutrition, and science introduced highly complex and mechanized methods of production. The proliferation of cookbooks, cooking shows, and professionally designed kitchens made meals more commercially, politically, and culturally potent. To better understand these trends, Smith delves deeply and humorously into their creation. Ultimately he shows how, by revisiting this history, we can reclaim the independent, locally sustainable roots of American food.

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Table of Contents-
  • Preface
    Acknowledgments
    Prologue
    1. Oliver Evans's Automated Mill
    2. The Erie Canal
    3. Delmonico's
    4. Sylvester Graham's Reforms
    5. Cyrus McCormick's Reaper
    6. A Multiethnic Smorgasbord
    7. Giving Thanks
    8. Gail Borden's Canned Milk
    9. The Homogenizing War
    10. The Transcontinental Railroad
    11. Fair Food
    12. Henry Crowell's Quaker Special
    13. Wilbur O. Atwater's Calorimeter
    14. The Cracker Jack Snack
    15. Fannie Farmer's Cookbook
    16. The Kelloggs' Corn Flakes
    17. Upton Sinclair's Jungle
    18. Frozen Seafood and TV Dinners
    19. Michael Cullen's Super Market
    20. Earle MacAusland's Gourmet
    21. Jerome I. Rodale's Organic Gardening
    22. Percy Spencer's Radar
    23. Frances Roth and Katharine Angell's CIA
    24. McDonald's Drive-In
    25. Julia Child, the French Chef
    26. Jean Nidetch's Diet
    27. Alice Waters's Chez Panisse
    28. TVFN
    29. The Flavr Savr
    30. Mergers, Acquisitions, and Spin-Offs
    Epilogue
    Bibliography

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 29, 2009
    With an incisive style, food writer and editor Smith (Hamburger: A Global History) cuts deep into the origins of modern American culture with 30 succinct servings of U.S. food history. Beginning with Oliver Evan's automated mill in 1784 and ending with the present-day development of food conglomerates like Kraft Foods, Smith offers ample context for the way Americans currently consume (and think about) food. Easy-to-digest prose and modest portions make these stories compulsively readable, and reveal new angles on old stories, like Sarah Hale's successful efforts to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, the first food magazine (recently-shuttered Gourmet), to a recurring examination of the American obsession with French cuisine. Exhaustively researched by a professional expert, Smith can be slowed by lists of names and numbers (especially in the mergers section), but anyone interested in food will learn much, especially about the serious consequences of decisions regarding our food supply.

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "Easy-to-digest prose and modest portions make these stories compulsively readable, and reveal new angles on old stories."

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    Columbia University Press
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Eating History
Eating History
Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine
Andrew F. Smith
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