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Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads 1st Edition

17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226494074
ISBN-10: 0226494071
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In recent years, the subject of food has been one primarily of seriousness verging on reverence. While that may be wholly justified, it's refreshing to have a good laugh (at ourselves) every now and then. Lovegren, an avid collector and reader of old cookbooks, brings us a history of America's eating fads from the 1920s through the 1980s. Unlike Harvey Levenstein's Revolution at the Table (LJ 2/1/88), which addressed U.S. gastronomy in relatively academic form, Lovegren's book is fanciful as she devotes herself to "some uniquely American culinary triumphs... and some uniquely American culinary disasters as well." Lovegren covers the effects on our tastes and eating habits of convenience products (e.g., kitchen appliances and canned foods) and of cultural events like Prohibition and the Depression. The book has many period-piece illustrations and well over 100 recipes, ranging from Blackened Redfish to "The Worst Salad of the Twenties" (Banana and Popcorn Salad). Useful as an idea source for theme parties and historical research on foods and their eras, this is recommended for popular culinary collections.?Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., Ky.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In recent years, the subject of food has been one primarily of seriousness verging on reverence. While that may be wholly justified, it's refreshing to have a good laugh (at ourselves) every now and then." - Library Journal; "In often hilarious fashion, Lovegren chronicles hundreds of wacky fads as the nation's cooks moved from frozen fishsticks and fat-free brownies to Szechwan shrimp alfredo." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226494071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226494074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,197,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"Fashionable Food" serves up the most entertaining overview of mealtime in America since Jane and Michael Stern's "Square Meals." From tasty to trendy to just plain oddball, if it was embraced by the guardians of hearth and home, you'll find it here.

Relive the era of Prohibition with "Flapper Pudding", explore new frontiers of soup with a 1930s "Mystery Cake" courtesy of Campbell's, endure the restrictions of the 40s war years - and celebrate the glory of the "goodbye to rations" post-war era. Go swank with a 50s Cocktail Party or sophisticated as you explore 60s gourmet cuisine. Get back to earth with 70s health food and expand your palate with the regional foods of the 80s.

Sprinkled throughout are tantalizing tidbits from re-visiting old friends like The Mystery Chef and Sheila Hibben to rediscovering the wonders of Chinese and Hawaiian cuisine when they were new and exotic. From crockpots to fondues; from Betty Crocker to Alice Waters; from Trader Vic's to Elmer Fudpucker's; if it's part of our gastronomical history, it's part of this entertaining hodgepodge of American food.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dale Hrabi on December 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reviewer (below) who faulted this book for its inconsistencies has a point. I've noticed the same flaws in passing, but, for me, the pleasures of this book easily outweigh them. I ran across it by chance, have owned it for years, and return to it again and again--sampling favorite bits or random bits as a "I'm too tired to start a new novel--let's just read something familiar" bedtime read. I've often wanted to write the author to tell her how much satisfaction her book has given me; only the hassles and uncertainty of trying to mail something via a publisher deterred me.

It offers so many fascinating details. Her account of the rise of the '70s salad bar, or the economical toast-based suppers of the '30s. Marshmallow madness in the 20s, the "lie" of American "Chinese" food, etc. I'm in no way a "foodie"--a creepy word that suggests a minor character on that old HR Pufinstuf show--but this book is, in many ways, also a valuable social and pop-cultural history. So glad to see it's been reprinted.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 7, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Fashionable Food, Seven Decades of Food Fads' by culinary historian and food writer, Sylvia Lovegren is a great addition to the social history of American culinary folkways, especially with its concentration on actual, tested recipes from each of the seven subject decades from the 1920s to the 1980s. It is an interesting contrast in approach to `Something from the Oven' by Laura Shapiro that deals more with narrative and less with recipes. The ideal book would have been a combination of the two techniques.

The most important thing to remember is that Ms. Lovegren is talking about things that were `fashionable', not with the demographics of food habits. As Ms. Shapiro points out in her book, the advent of the convenience foods after World War II did not permeate American cooking. They, along with their most vocal proponent, Poppy Cannon, got a lot of attention, but were always viewed as shortcuts and not necessarily a tectonic shift in American cooking habits.

Reading a version of this book revised and republished in 2005 makes me wonder why the author did not update the material in this book to cover the last 15 years, where the playing out of so many trends, and the origin of so many new ones would have added so much interesting material to the book. The advent of the Food Network alone may have warranted a chapter. In all, the coverage of food journalism, especially TV food journalism is just a little thin. Dione Lucas and Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet) are mentioned briefly and Julia Child is given her due for her truly incredible influence on American eating, but there is no mention of, for example Martin Yan, the Galloping Gourmet, and local TV cooking shows.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill Warriner on April 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book stands out in the crowd for 3 reasons: (1)It was carefully researched and covers 20th century American cooking from head to toe. (2)Sylvia Lovegren writes simple, straightforward English prose with great style and a consistent, tangy sense of humor. (3)For anyone who grew up in America and cares about food, "Fashionable Food" solves many of the foggy mysteries of how our fads came to be (recipes included).
And it paints a portrait of our society: for example, when Lovegren covers the rise to popularity of gazpacho during the 1950s-60s, she notes that it was de rigeur to serve your gazpacho with sangria, paella, a bullfight poster on the wall, and a recording of Miles Davis'album "Sketches of Spain" playing on the hi-fi (stereo came later). When covering the post-WW II American diet of Wonderbread, Jell-O and Spam, she skewers "The Can-Opener Cookbook" (1952) by Poppy Cannon - whose recipe for Vichyssoise called for a can of condensed cream of chicken soup and a package of frozen mashed potatoes. Pity the folks who ate it.
But Lovegren does more than snicker at the past foibles of American cookery. To me, this book was an epiphany. Suddenly, I understood how and why American cooking developed the way it did. This book reveals how our cultural climate slowly evolved, and became fertile ground for growing the great American fusion cooking we enjoy today.
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