We are what we eat—and American food is about as diverse as you can get. From the beignets of New Orleans to the cheesecakes of New York City (to drill further, Jewish, from the Lower East Side, or Italian, from Little Italy?), Americans enjoy a wide range of cuisines, which are chronicled in this easy-to-use and eminently readable book. Most of the entries in this revised edition have not changed from the previous, though many of the longer articles have been updated and expanded, and there are new entries for a few subjects, such as Molecular cuisine. Although it has been 14 years since the last edition was published, the most important revision has been the addition of biographies of people who contributed significantly to American cuisine. These biographies include obvious choices—such as Craig Claiborne and Julia Child—as well as those who greatly influenced the way Americans eat in more subtle but no less important ways, such as Upton Sinclair and Luther Burbank. This is an encyclopedia of nouns, not verbs, so though readers won’t find definitions of cooking actions, such as tempering chocolate, they will find a detailed account of the history of chocolate use in America. Recipes as representative or as original as possible for classic dishes are included in a different typeface after appropriate entries. The instructions are pared down, as the author assumes some expertise, but they provide a fascinating look at dishes readers may have heard of but never tried. Just as interesting are the notes on the etymology of the names of ingredients, foods, and drinks as they evolved in American cuisine. Some subjects contain subheadings, for example “Flour” lists and defines 18 particular types of flour and their usage. The index is extensive. This volume is entertaining and enlightening, suitable for any food historian or home cook who is interested in having an easy guide to the foods of the U.S. and quick access to the most authentic recipes for classic dishes and drinks. --Elaine Lindstrom
About the Author
John Mariani began his career as a journalist at New York magazine in 1973. Since then, he has become one of America’s premier food writers. He is a columnist for Esquire and Bloomberg News, was nominated three times for the James Beard Journalism Award, and is the author of several highly regarded books on food, including references such as Mariani’s Coast-to-Coast Dining Guide, America Eats Out (winner of the IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award for reference), and most recently, How Italian Food Conquered the World. He is also the author of The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink andeditor of Italian Cuisine: Basic Cooking Techniques, the primary Italian textbook at the Culinary Institute of America.