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American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes Hardcover – April 19, 2007
Frequently Bought Together
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This exhaustive collection of essays, anecdotes, and recipes spans three centuries of American food writing, from Meriwether Lewis's account of killing "two bucks and two buffaloe" during his famous trek across the continent, to Michael Pollan's up-to-the-minute account of the politics of organic food. In between are countless gems: Alice B. Toklas's baroque recipe for lobster, Richard Olney's meditation on paté and Edna Lewis's poignant description of killing hogs on her family farm. Ably organized and edited by the former host of the PBS series Great Food, this collection features numerous accounts of foodways long since vanished in this country; take, for instance, Charlie Ranhofer's thorough analysis of the thirteen-course society dinner, complete with "removes or solid joints," "iced punch or sherbet," and "hot sweet entremets"; or Maria Sermolino's memories of the Italian meals served at her father's Greenwich Village restaurant back when spaghetti was still a novelty. Famous food writers are well represented here (James Beard and Calvin Trillin, M.F.K. Fisher and James Villas), but perhaps even more rewarding are the wonderful but lesser-known players on the American food scene; either Elizabeth Robins Pennell's discussion of the spring chicken or Eugene Walter's tale of gumbo alone would make this volume a treasure. With so many wonderful ingredients, this rich, delectable treat is a must-have for American foodies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
A cookbook author, memoirist, and longtime New York Times food columnist, Molly O'Neill has been a hardcore foodie for more years than most of us have been using utensils. In American Food Writing, O'Neill pleases just about everyone-food bullies and drive-thru junkies alike-with her diverse selections that draw on more than three centuries of writing about food. The essays and recipes provide entertaining reading, as well as a roadmap to how food and culture define each other in the march toward a "kitchen without walls." The book lacks a dominant theme (maybe not such a bad thing, depending upon where you sit at the table), and one critic bemoans a lack of writing on Eastern European and Slavic cuisine. Still, American Food Writing is more than a meal. Bon appétit.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
But when an author gets to the soul of the food being written about, well, something very special happens for the reader. Food writing can open up new vistas for the adventurous food lover. We can learn about foods and dishes we had never expected or anticipated. We can get fresh takes on dishes we thought we knew. It can take us back in time and show us the roots of where we came from. Even the way they wrote their recipes can be instructive. We notice what they assumed the person using the recipe would assume as understood, the kinds of ingredients and equipment they assumed would be on hand, and what was new and different that had to be carefully spelled out.
Food writing also makes for wonderful anthropology. What people ate when and where provides wonderful insights into who the people were, what they valued, what was available to them, their technology, those with whom they traded, and their connections to those who came later (the way the dishes and foods evolved and changed over time). Too often we make the lazy assumption that the past was much like the present, but not as modern. In fact, it is often very different.Read more ›
There are pieces here by everyone from Thomas Jefferson, to Alice B. Toklas, to Ray Kroc. That's an incredible diversity of viewpoints. Walt Whitman's description of bringing exotic and rare iced cream to wounded civil war veterans contrasts strangely, but tantalizingly, with Eric Schlosser's exploration of exactly how the chemical factories in northern New Jersey create the artificial and "natural" flavors that permeate all of our processed food. From dozens of almost completely unrelated pieces, a picture of American food pointillistically emerges.
I went to this book's release party back in 2007 at the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles. (No conflict of interest in this review; the event was open to the public.) Some chefs from around the city had prepared a variety of foods from the recipes in the book, and they were all superb. Particularly fantastic were Helen Evans Brown's 1952 gazpacho (which I have since made at home to my wife's delight), and Union Square Cafe's 1994 yellowfin tuna burgers.
As one might expect, there are recipes throughout, and the writings of food luminaries such as Julia Child and James Beard. But, the volume includes essays, journal entries, and stories by Willa Cather (a selection from My Antonia), Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, John Steinbeck, H.L.Mencken and Gertrude Stein to name just a few. They are written about food, not necessarily about cooking. Some use food as part of a larger landscape of writing, while other pieces directly explore the glory of eating.
All in all, it is a delicious volume of writing. I highly recommend this anthology for the joy of reading.
I have only two quibbles with Molly O'Neill's selections: First, she didn't include anything from her own Memoir, "Mostly True," which was not only hilarious in places but reveals her substantial culinary and writing talents. Second, she didn't include a selection from Robert Farrar Capon's "The Supper of the Lamb" -- a small cookbook with reminiscences, published in the 1970s and probably out of print by now.
I should add that I bought this particular copy of "American Food Writing" as a gift because I liked it so much.
--Catherine Carl Wakelyn
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love to read and I love to cook, and I love this book. Even if I didn't cook, I would still love the book. Read morePublished 14 months ago by nclovely1
I was a little disappointed - interesting info but not enough old recipes. I am still reading this book and will finish it, but not rushing to do so.Published on August 30, 2013 by Amazon Customer
A collection of American food writing spanning 250 years by writers with distinctive voices and opinions. Read morePublished on August 3, 2013 by Jeanne McCombs
Very awesome. Writing from early times to current writers. This book has it all, with many essays including recipes. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by John S.
Judging from the thickness of the book, I thought reading this book is going to be horrible (hence the book is a requirement for my research writing class). Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by N. Morden
I was forced to read this book for an honors class, and lets just say I boycotted reading it after 90 pages. Read morePublished on September 25, 2010 by Molly_smiles
I was very excited about this book, intending to curl up with it and enjoy reading it. But this book is so clumsily printed, that was impossible. Read morePublished on March 8, 2008 by Mom of Sons
I received my copy of this book from Ms O'Neill after accompanying her and her associate, Nora Sherman, on a visit to Northern Minnesota, where they gathered recipes and stories... Read morePublished on December 3, 2007 by S. Baker
Every anthology has a mission. AMERICAN FOOD WRITING is an anthology in search of completeness, and its success there justifies its price. Read morePublished on December 3, 2007 by Mary Lee Cox