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America’s Kitchens Paperback – December 1, 2008
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...The variety of illustrations in Kitchens produces an engaging panorama ranging from period photography, written documents, drawings, and advertisements to genre paintings. The span of illustrative material runs parallel to and complements the book's highly satisfactory essays on kitchens, and cooking traditions, making it an outstanding resource for house restorers...."
"...a text that delves into the social history of the space and its inhabitants....subjects such as regional foodstuffs, domestic servants, home economics, and advertising are well covered....Excerpts from household manuals and diaries, quotations from notable figures, and recipes interspersed throughout the book are a charming addition to the text...Myriad illustrations are included, mostly of paintings, prints, and archival photographs that capture very well the activity of the kitchen..."
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Top Customer Reviews
The book has seven chapters:
1) The kitchen in American life
2) The New England hearth 1720-1840
3) Kitchens in the plantation south 1830-1860
4) Cookstoves and servants 1850-1890
5) Kitchens along the Rio Grande 1821-1912
6) Towards the modern kitchen 1890-1945
7) The Postwar kitchen 1945-present
Thus the book moves through time and place in a very engaging way. The book is fully illustrated; a picture on nearly every page. It's the kind of book you could read cover-to-cover or just flip through and read a page here and there, and enjoy it both ways.
As a food fan myself, this book made me reflect. A lot of us foodies are so enthusiastic nowadays about "slow" and authentic food, and so against processed and prepared foods. Yet this book showed how preparing, cooking, and preserving food often dominated literally every minute of women's lives. For example, "by some estimates, women may have spent as much as six to eight hours a day grinding corn and another two or three hours making tortillas" (p. 111). Wow. Even the most dedicated foodie doesn't want to spend 10 hours a day making the same thing, every single day. Made me appreciate technology in and out of the kitchen much more. And it also made me realize why, for example, my grandmother was big into canned and frozen foods. What a relief it must have seemed after watching her own mother and grandmother work this much.
I highly recommend this book!
If you're interested in learning about kitchens, women's studies, food history or any related topic, you should pick this book up and don't put it down until you're done.