From Publishers Weekly
Mariani ( The Dictionary of American Food & Drink ) surveys American dining from the inns of the Revolutionary era to the food fashions of the 1990s, showing how Americans have found themselves attracted to eating out by a progression of "good ideas." He reveals how innovations, such as the elegant menu choice and flexible hours of Delmonico's in New York City, circa 1837, the lunch wagon in Providence, Rhode Island, of 1872, and the showmanship of Maxwell's Plum in New York City, founded in 1966, have helped to change American expectations and eating habits. The author also looks lovingly at the wide variety of American eateries and at how they grew, including the origins of diners and fast food, as well as how continental gave way to nouvelle in haute cuisine. And though Mariani rather rushes from trend to trend and from historical sketch to anecdote, readers intrigued by popular culture at its most (and least) delicious won't want to put the book down.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
In a brisk, chronological narrative, Mariani, Esquire's food and travel correspondent, surveys American eateries from menu-less Colonial taverns to Delmonico's opulent Paris-style restaurant in early 19th-century New York to Bern's, a garish and extravagant Tampa steakhouse that he calls ``the most remarkable [and] one of the most famous restaurants in the entire world.'' Mariani's straightforward history has little in common with another recent survey, the Sterns' wittier, more entertaining American Gourmet (p. 1004). Much of the author's material appears to be recycled from more specific popular histories such as those listed in his bibliography; and his commentary and summary judgments (on Italian immigrant food, for example) are generally pat and conventional. Still, Mariani knows how to highlight salient aspects of a trend or establishment, and his perfectly readable narrative abounds in diverting facts, quotes, anecdotes, and profiles. (Did you know, for example, that the first golden arches, made for a Phoenix McDonald's that opened in 1953, are now on permanent exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan? Or that the famous ``21'' Club began as a high-class speak-easy to replace a predecessor, ``No. 42,'' that was displaced by Rockefeller Center, and closed with a lavish, bang-up New Year's Eve demolition party?) For libraries, Mariani's account can function further as a handy time-line of American gastronomy; and, not least, the 200 b&w photos to come promise a banquet for browsers. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.