From Publishers Weekly
Food historian Smith, editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America
, discusses both fact and myth in this thorough and multifaceted history of the turkey. Smith believes the quintessentially American bird (we consume 240 million of them a year) can tell us about cultural issues and reveal something about being American. Dividing the book into a section on the turkey's history and another on historical recipes, the author hopes to give a comprehensive accounting of the bird. Beginning with a scientific description, the historical section covers turkey bones found in North America dating to 3700 B.C., then moves on to the introduction of domesticated turkeys into Europe by explorers of the New World. Methods of cooking from the 16th through the 19th centuries and efforts to preserve the disappearing wild turkey in the early 20th century follow. Even the turkey trot gets a mention. Short chapter sections keep the reading flowing, but the eye-glazing number of facts and dry prose can be overwhelming. Still, Smith has produced a well-researched, comprehensive, though somewhat scattered account of the bird most people take for granted. 22 photos. (Nov.)
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"The Turkey pulls together an impressive array of historical sources into an engaging, in-depth survey of the natural, culinary and 'social' history of he turkey." Kathleen Curtin, author of Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie