Does the US—the place where no one blinks when you order guacamole or blue cheese on your burger, or pineapple on your pizza—really have its own cuisine?
Yes, emphatically yes, argues Yale historian Paul Freedman in this brightly written, example-rich account spanning three centuries. Like the country itself, American cuisine has evolved dramatically in response to many factors, not the least of them geographic expansion and immigration. Regional cooking has been important, even if mere “memory if not the reality of regionalism has been kept alive. Not all these memories are accurate, but all are important and most are entertaining.”
Freedman’s is not the only recent attempt at a comprehensive American culinary history but it is a surpassingly commanding one, reinforced by his grasp of forces as diverse as the development of advertising, the insights gained from community cookbooks, the industrialization of food production, and the changing role of women in American society. Connecting all these threads is a confident, occasionally wry voice that only allows its narrative drive to be charmingly sidetracked by a great story or little-known illuminating detail.
How does that all add up to a cuisine? Therein lies the pleasure of reading this compelling book.
Paperback. 528 pages. Color photographs throughout.