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The Great American Cookbook: 500 Time-Testes Recipes: Favorite Food from Every State Hardcover – October 11, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"But Paddleford loved and told the stories of others, and she sought out people and families who cooked the foods journalists and locavores still think we're discovering today." ~The New York Times

"Paddleford was clearly ahead of her time, and her reporting is a pleasure to read. This title’s historic and ethnographic significance will appeal to researchers, and anyone who loves good food writing will enjoy the stories accompanying some of America’s best-known dishes." ~Library Journal

About the Author

Clementine Paddleford was the first American writer to define American food. Through her weekly columns, she reached more than 12 million people. In 1963, Time magazine named her the country’s ‘Best-Known Food Editor.’ Kelly Alexander, a longtime editor at Saveur magazine, has written for The New Republic, Food & Wine, and The New York Times. Molly O’Neill, the author of four cookbooks including most recently One Big Table, was for ten years the food columnist for The New York Times Magazine and was also the host of the PBS series Great Food.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; Revised ed. edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847836908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847836901
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 2.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #962,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I like most of the recipes in this book, which incorporates Clementine Paddleford's more modest 1960 volume, "How America Eats," and I actually appreciate the editor's substituting fresh foods for canned soup and similar staples of the 1950s. A number of Paddleford's named recipe sources are now famous, and the stories of the recipe origins are fun to read.

However, I _hate_ the format of this edition, which is not designed to be helpful to cooks. It weighs a ton, has unnecessary and distracting design and typographic features, and worst, it's bound like a paperback notwithstanding its heavy paper and cover--glued at the spine so tightly that you can hardly open the book. It certainly won't stay open for a second if you lay it down, which you conceivably might want to do in order to cook from it or just to rest your arm.

I think it was designed to be big and heavy like this to position it in the same category as other recent New York Times-derived cookbooks, say, Amanda Hesser's "Essential New York Times Cookbook" or Molly O'Neill's "One Big Table." By contrast with the Paddleford update, however, both these great big books are original works crammed with the authors' research and recipe testing, and you feel that every page is worth the added weight. There's are good reasons for their heft: Hesser's historical perspective and her selection of NYTimes recipes; and O'Neill's interesting personal stories, pictures, and unique home cooking. Both books--like the original "America Eats"--reflect the authors' years of first-hand experience at the Times and elsewhere.

(I should mention here an old favorite, Jean Hewitt's "New York Times Heritage Cookbook," published in 1972 and, like those of Paddleford, O'Neill, and Hesser, based on the author's original research.
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Format: Hardcover
I was raised by a feminist with a job and a healthy scorn for the degree to which being a housewife meant lacking cultural currency. (Hey, it was the 70s.) My mom made sure that in her family, everyone did the cooking. But none of us were taught much so the cooking was uninformed and uninspired. Now that I have my own family and my own job, my cooking has been even less informed and less inspired. Until this book. The writing here is inviting, friendly and wise. There's a sense of humor and a friendly, can-do spirit to Paddleford's approach. The introduction is particularly inspiring given my reticence. Kelly Alexander lends me confidence and even a bit of a thrill. And I love these recipes, they don't intimidate and they don't bore. Everything I've made from this book has tasted delicious and has not caused me a headache or meltdown or trip to some faraway, unknown gourmet store. It's easy and rewarding. I recommend this book for everyone interested in American food, cooking and food writing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have both "How America Eats" and "The Great American Cookbook" which was supposed to be a re-do of "How America Eats" by Clementine Paddleford. I am really disappointed with the "Great American Cookbook". Paddleford gathered recipes all over America, perhaps one of the first persons to catalog what Americans were actually eating. It is a significant historical work of American cuisine.
At the time home economics majors touted what should be healthy eating, corporations published recipes using their boxed and packaged products and gourmet cooks insisted that american food was dreadful and promoted their recipes. But these were agendas, not necessarily what Americans were eating. Paddleford travelled around the country trying out foods and gathering the recipes.
Missing the point that this is an important work in the history of American cuisine, the editors of "Great American Cookbook" gutted the collection, removing dessert recipes because sweets aren't healthy in "obese America" and removing gelatin desserts or recipes that called for cream of chicken soup or processed cheese. Then the editors rewrote the remaining recipes, despite the fact that they were kitchen tested, presumably so women today would know to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Historically speaking, "How America Eats" is a great collection of food recipes collected across America in the early part of the twentieth century by a pioneer spirit. The editors have turned it to mush. It is a shame that the copies of "How America Eats" are becoming so rare that they are almost too expensive to own because "The Great American Cookbook" does not replace it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is sort of like time-traveling back to America, circa 1950. The recipe choices for each state can be quirky, it's true. But I found them charmingly quirky--like when you turn to the page your grandmother dog-eared in her tattered Junior League spiral cookbook from 1950. The voice of Clementine Paddleford is great--sort of like a spunky aunt who loves to wax poetic about all her travels. This is a real lost classic.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book for Hannukah and it's been a staple in my kitchen ever since.

So the fact that there's great "American Food" isn't exactly news anymore. I mean, the fact that you're reading this says that you already know that. I think American food got good in the 90's, and the rest of the world, more or less, recognized that only recently.

But before it was even new news, that's when these recipes are from.

I have tried the following things from this cookbook:

-Pot Roast
-Souffled Mac & Cheese
-Black Chocolate Cake
-Cinnamon Rolls
-Black bean soup

My favorite thing about this book is that it's organized by region rather than by recipe type, so it really feels like it's American.
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