Thank goodness Jean Anderson's The American Century Cookbook is as much a culinary page-turner as a call to the kitchen, because most of the 20th century's favorites are killers according to modern nutritional standards. Try to be satisfied learning that chocolate brownies and meatloaf, as we know it, were born back when most cooks relied on a wood-burning stove, and resist the urge to whip up a Grasshopper Pie or batch of Cherry Winks. Be assured, though, all 500-plus recipes work to perfection, including the one for Perfection Salad, the gelatin mold that started it all back in 1905. Charting trends along with the origins of specific dishes, Jean Anderson shares the significance of landmark cookbooks, from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, to Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cook Book, and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Sea changes cited are the acceptance of foreign cuisines and the idea that cooking can be a pastime as well as a necessity. A few landmark recipes include Clam Dip, Gazpacho, Guacamole, Sloppy Joes, New York-Style Cheesecake, and Banana-Nut Bread. Find your favorites set in context by Anderson's painstaking research.
From Library Journal
Anderson, a well-known food writer and cookbook author, has put together a fascinating collection of recipes, anecdotes, and historical tidbits about America's favorite foods since the turn of the century. Many recipes come from old cookbooks and magazines; others are from chefs and cooking teachers; and lots come from the test kitchens of food companies (remember Mock Apple Pie from Ritz crackers?). Most readers will discover forgotten old favorites here, although at times the preponderance of back-of-the-box-type recipes is a rueful comment on American tastes?but, then, how could Lipton's onion soup dip not be included? Recipes are organized by category, but the headnotes and a time line running through the book set them in historical context. There are also boxes on topics from Wheaties to the Joy of Cooking and 300 illustrations (not seen) scattered throughout. Fun to read or just to dip into, this is a unique cultural history; highly recommended.
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