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New Orleans: A Food Biography (Big City Food Biographies) Hardcover – December 19, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The first book in any series has the dual obligation of not only delivering great content but also defining what its successors will look, sound, and feel like (in terms of tone). In the first book in the Big City Food Biographies, Williams, president of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and coauthor of The A-Z Encyclopedia of Food Controversies and the Law (2010), establishes a very academic style, one that is dense and lacking in the illustrations that Creole cuisine and New Orleans food in general so richly deserve. All the appropriate topics are covered, from history and geography to markets, restaurants, and signature food and dishes. She differentiates between Cajun and Creole: the former consists of one-pot dinners usually “invented” in areas settled by Acadians, and the latter is distinguished by its sauces and starches (though both cuisines boast forms of gumbo and jambalaya). We learn how the confluence of different ethnicities and populations influenced the culture and its food. And we discover some of the tasty indigenous language and habits, such as “making groceries” as a euphemism for food shopping; Sazerac, the official cocktail of the city (a combination of rye and bitters); and a unique open-container law that allows anyone to leave a bar with a to-go cup. Intriguing facts and figures, stories and anecdotes, all buried in a stiff narrative. --Barbara Jacobs

Review

New Orleans: A Food Biography is the first in a projected series, "Big City Food Biographies," from AltaMira Press. The aim of the series is to focus on "those metropolises celebrated as culinary destinations, with their iconic dishes, ethnic neighborhoods, markets, restaurants, and chefs" and to provide "real biographies that will satisfy readers' desire to know the full food culture of a city." New Orleans, with its unique cuisine and urban culture, is an appropriate city in which to begin such a series. Williams spends the first half of the book identifying the historical events, cultural influences, raw materials, and immigrant groups that greatly contributed to the creation of New Orleans cuisine. The second half of the book details restaurants, drinking culture, home cooking, and the signature New Orleans foods. The final chapter on New Orleans foods is the book's strength, highly readable and researched. The historical background provides necessary context for the evolution of New Orleans food, and a bibliography is provided). Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduates. (CHOICE)

Williams’s authoritative New Orleans: A Food Biography explains why New Orleans fare is what it is. Williams takes a comprehensive approach, detailing the many forces and establishments—from the Mississippi River, with its bounty of ship and freshwater fish, to the local grocery chain Schwegmann’s—that have shaped the way the city eats and cooks. (Saveur)

Williams, the director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, a New Orleans non-profit living history organization (southernfood.org), draws upon insights from history, economics, the law, and geography to craft a compelling book-length narrative from a considerable variety of data. . . This is all done very well. . . . The description of local foods in the final chapter and the bibliography are both also very useful, and the book is notable for its attention to more contemporary developments in New Orleans restaurant culture. ... New Orleans: A Food Biography is a book well worth reading and using. It evidences its narrative by a range of useful information from several fields; it includes the basics on many of the key people, institutions, and foods of the area; and it presents a picture of local foodways that will be accessible and interesting to students and general readers as well as scholars. I look forward to more books in this series. (Digest: A Journal of Foodways & Culture)

Only in New Orleans would our food be considered just as important as any person and worthy of its own biography! So, whether you’re a native New Orleanian or simply a fan of our cooking, just reading New Orleans: A Food Biography is sure to satisfy your craving. This book digs into the rich, centuries-old history of the many ethnic and geographic influences that have gone into making our cuisine so uniquely New Orleans. (Dickie Brennan, New Orleans chef/restaurateur)

Liz Williams loads us into her time capsule for a journey to the mecca of New World cuisine. Through New Orleans: A Food Biography we experience the richness of the original fusion cuisine. New Orleans brought together every Western food tradition, and the Amerindian traditions, and over the centuries the glory that is New Orlean’s cuisine evolved. Like to eat? Read this now. (Dale DeGroff, master mixologist and author of The Craft of the Cocktail)
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Product Details

  • Series: Big City Food Biographies
  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press (December 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759121362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759121362
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Stierman Edwards on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Liz Williams has the background and credentials to write convincingly about New Orleans food--a native, and the founder of Southern Food and Beverage Museum, she gets it right. This isn't just a collection of essays about different dishes, but a biography of the city itself, through one of its most significant cultural markers--Food! Fascinating read, and provocative. I recommend it highly, even if you never understood what all the deal was about red beans and rice. You'll get it after you read this.
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Format: Hardcover
I doubt anyone on earth is more immersed in the enchanted world of our city's cuisine than is Liz Williams. She is at the center of all the food conversations, as the founder and president of the amazing Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

This is a truly delicious love letter to New Orleans food culture and heritage. Readers will find pet topics, chefs, restaurants or dishes not included here. But no one can fault Williams competence or enthusiasm in this work. This book is utterly wonderful, educational, and challenging from beginning to end.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
well written and fun to read. This book brings to light many interesting facts about New Orleans history and the evolution of food and eating in the area.
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By M Russell on September 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Great prices and lightening speed delivery. Thank You.
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