Cover image for American appetite : the coming of age of a cuisine
American appetite : the coming of age of a cuisine
Brenner, Leslie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bard, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 370 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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TX633 .B694 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Winner of the 1999 Versailles World
Cookbook Fair Award For Best Culinary
History, English Language In Leslie Brenner's "witty and sumptuous" look at the history of the American food revolution, an award-winning food writer traces a fascinating culinary heritage and looks to a promising future. Hundreds of years ago, Native Americans feasted on regional ingredients like Olympia oysters, fresh herbs, and wild fowl. Now the best American chefs are returning to those roots. How did we get here? From the Puritan diet to Prohibition, from Julia Child through waves of immigration in the 1960s, Brenner traces the evolution of a national cuisine in delicious detail. Highlighted by interviews with Ameria's leading culinary innovators, including Julia Child, Alice Waters, and Robert Mondavi--and aided by heaping dollops of wit and opinion--Brenner serves up a singular history of American cuisine that will be of deep interest to anyone who loves to eat well.

Author Notes

Leslie Brenner, author of the award-winning American Appetite, received an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. Her book Review and features have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Harper's, among others. GREETINGS FROM THE GOLDEN STATE is her first novel.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As the millennium approaches, writers are looking back over the past century to see how American taste in food has evolved into the major preoccupation it is today. Leslie Brenner's analysis focuses on the enormous changes of the past 40 years ushered in by Julia Child's books and television shows. James Beard also transformed the way Americans regarded comestibles despite his excessive reliance on commercial endorsements and support. New York restaurants and the installation of a French chef in the White House during the Kennedy administration raised the standards American hostesses aspired to reach in their own kitchens. Brenner concentrates her version of American food history almost exclusively on eating habits in New York City and Los Angeles, virtually ignoring the changes occurring in the country's heartland. And all too often, personal anecdote substitutes for real historical investigation and insight into the causes behind the vast revolution in American taste. --Mark Knoblauch

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this intriguing, albeit somewhat haughty, culinary treatise, Brenner (1996 winner of the James Beard Award for journalism and the author of several books on wine and food) attempts to discern whether an American cuisine exists. Brenner observes that "Americans love big flavors. As a group, we tend not to have, shall we say, refined tastes," and from there she sets out to define what is American cuisineÄmostly from a perspective of culinary sophisticationÄas evidenced in what is offered by grocery stores, restaurants and cookbooks. She gives a brief history of the American culinary evolution, from the clever and imaginative cooking methods of the Native Americans and Dutch (which were altered to suit the bland Puritan taste) to Thomas Jefferson's introduction of French foods to the era of industrial canning, which Brenner believes led to the demise of American gastronomy. In a chapter entitled "Xenophobes No More: The Foreign Influence," she lists the contributions that have been made by people from other countries, especially since the Immigration Act of 1965. A chapter on "chic" food informs that celery ruled in the 1860s, oranges gained prominence in the 1870s and vichyssoise came of age in the 1920s. In the end, Brenner states that American cuisine is "alive, it's vibrant, it's hereÄthough it's only just starting to come into its own." Although her tone may irk readers not from New England or California ("In many cities and towns across America, the gastronomic revolution has yet to arrive"), Brenner offers a fascinating look into the history of America's cuisine. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Is there such as thing as an American cuisine? Brenner, author of Fear of Wine: An Introductory Guide to the Grape (LJ 10/1/95), attempts to answer that question in an intriguing, detailed look at the changes in American cooking and dining. After delving into Americas culinary history, from the effects of the Domestic Science movement to the origins of contemporary trends, including the celebrity chef, Brenner explores other forces that have influenced American cooking, such as immigrant cuisines and the connection between the growth of farmers markets and todays emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Lightly seasoned with personal anecdotes, American Appetite is filled with fascinating food facts as well as a soupon of information on culinary icons like Alice Waters and Julia Child. Recommended for large public libraries, academic libraries with cookery arts collections, or any library craving a generous serving of culinary wisdom.John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Wayne Nish
Forewordp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 How We Lost Gastronomyp. 9
Chapter 2 Why Julia Child Captured Our Imaginationp. 27
Chapter 3 Regular Fish and Sacred Cowsp. 53
Chapter 4 Xenophobes No More: The Foreign Influencep. 81
Chapter 5 The California Visionp. 121
Chapter 6 Food as Chicp. 159
Chapter 7 It's Delicious, But is it Cuisine?p. 187
Chapter 8 The American Menup. 225
Chapter 9 Dining and the American Palatep. 247
Chapter 10 The Farmers' Market Movementp. 277
Chapter 11 The Pursuit of Happinessp. 297
Postscript: Into the Millenniump. 315
Notesp. 325
Bibliographyp. 349
Indexp. 360