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Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate Hardcover – September 18, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune. Alexander, whose article on Paddleford for Saveur won the James Beard Journalism Award in 2002, and Harris, the archivist at Kansas State Univ., to which native Paddleford left her papers, happily resurrect Paddleford's work. An indefatigable journalist, Paddleford broke with the staid home-economics primers of the era. With humble Midwest beginnings and a degree in industrial journalism, Paddleford set out for New York City to make a name for herself, and found that her energy and sheer prodigiousness opened doors at popular publications like Farm & Fireside, Christian Herald and This Week, the Tribune's Sunday magazine. Influenced by the peripatetic culinary adventures of salesman Duncan Hines, Paddleford launched, in 1948, a series of columns in This Week called How America Eats, spotlighting regional cooks and their down-home specialties. With her trademark florid prose and historic touches, Paddleford became widely known, and her subsequent book, How America Eats (1960), became a bestseller. The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes. (Sept.)
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Review

Selected as one of the 2009 Kansas Notable Books In "Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris's smartly drawn, surprisingly uplifting biography [...] the authors share Paddleford's eye for a good story, deftly documenting their subject's well-deserved contributions to food journalism, but balancing them with biographical color."
-New York Post

"Alexander and Harris paint an affectionate portrait of the eccentric writer, an ebullient yet imposing individualist and charismatic adventurer...Rich, flavorful and spirited, like its subject and the cuisines she chronicled."
-Kirkus

"At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune...The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes."
-Publishers Weekly



--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (September 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592403891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592403899
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Clementine Paddleford is not a name you're likely to recognize. But as Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris tell us in this lively and engaging biography, Paddleford, a true original, invented the genre of culinary chronicles, to the enormous delight and edification of millions of readers over a career that spanned nearly a half century.

Paddleford (1898-1967) grew up in Kansas, earned a journalism degree in 1921, and went to New York to begin her career as a writer. When that didn't work out, she moved to Chicago, where she took a number of public relations jobs, eventually writing herself into the position of household editor at Farm & Fireside National Farm Journal. A few years later, she took a similar position at the Christian Herald, and finally, in 1936, became Food Editor at the Herald Tribune, a position she held until 1966.

By the time she went to the Tribune, Paddleford had gained a reputation for a pert and personally-engaging style that stood in lively contrast to the dull, objective food reporting practiced by the home economists who dominated food writing at the time. Her articles about her forays into American kitchens around the country placed the food that people really ate (as opposed to what the food industry was telling them to eat) in the context of regional and family traditions. Every article included at least one recipe, such as "Mrs. Wilkie's Drop Biscuits," offered by the wife of Wendell Wilkie, the Republican presidential candidate who lost to Roosevelt in 1940, or the famous "Lindy's Cheesecake," beloved by patrons of the New York restaurant. "It stands half a foot tall," she wrote in her highly evocative style. "It measures one foot across. Its top is shiny as satin and baked to the gold of the frost-tinged oak...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up with the recipes collected by Clementine Paddleford. Although my mother liked to fiddle with the recipes (for example, Mom added finely minced candied fruitcake mix to the Joe Froggers recipe) I avidly read Ms. Paddleford's columns in the Sunday "This Week" magazine insert to our local newspaper. What I enjoyed most about this biography was the inclusion of recipes along with the story, just like the stories Clementine wrote for This Week. I guess it was training for me to learn how to taste what I was reading.

Now that I have 20/20 hindsight, I see that Clementine captured the food ways and culture from what are now by-gone days, and has given us a window--kitchen window, that is--on the past.

This volume is a valued addition to any cookbook or American history collection. Right up there with MFK Fisher, et.al. And what I meant by "know our roots" is to say that she was one of the driving forces to promote good food and the "culinary enthusiasm" we know and love today (such as the Food Channel).

Congratulations to Cynthia Harris and Kelly Alexander for their hard work in sharing with us the biography of one of the forerunner feminists of America.

Now my greatest hope is that Clementine's book "How America Eats" will be re-printed.
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Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of Clementine Paddleford before reading this book. By the end I had come to understand how her influence on food journalism helped shape the modern landscape. Her passion truly helped define what we understand today as American food culture.

Alexander and Harris do a great job of bringing Paddleford's character to life. She lead a fascinating life, overcame personal adversity, and left a tremendous impact, yet her name is virtually unknown to younger generations of foodies. It's great to see this remarkable woman receiving the credit she deserves.

It's also clear that both authors have an understandably tremendous reverence for Ms Paddleford. The end sections about how the authors personally discovered Paddleford's work were as interesting as the main biography.

The detailed recipes sound fantastic and I am looking forward to trying several of them. The fact that they are interspersed in the biography add colorful context to the narrative. They will ensure that this book stays handy rather than finds its way into box in the garage.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
HOMETOWN APPETITES: THE STORY OF CLEMENTINE PADDLEFORD, THE FORGOTTEN FOOD WRITER WHO CHRONICLED HOW AMERICA ATE is a medium-sized book with a long title that offers the reader a double opportunity: to learn about the career of a pioneering female food journalist, and to see many of the regional recipes she collected during decades of research.

Clementine Paddleford grew up on a farm in Eastern Kansas and attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, in the 1920s. She majored in Industrial Journalism, a specialty that occasionally brought her into conflict with the magazine editors she served, who usually expected their reporters to have formal Home Economics training. But Paddleford already knew cooking and home management, and from early on wanted to write. After graduating from Kansas State, she lived in New York City, then Chicago, then New York again, slowly climbing the career ladder with massive amounts of initiative and hard work. By the late Thirties she forged the affiliation that would make her famous: the New York Herald Tribune and its glossy Sunday magazine, THIS WEEK. In a combination of car, train, and self-piloting, Paddleford logged (by her estimation) 800,000 miles of travel in a decade and a half of research, coast-to-coast and border-to-border, seeking out and publishing in the paper and the magazine those home-made regional recipes that reached an appreciative and growing readership.
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