Customer Reviews for

Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006


    How have we lived so long without this book? This is the first major work about American food that is written by Americans in American English. Most food history has been written by Europeans who revel in the glories of European food, then say, 'The Americans came. McDonald's. The end.' But wait ¿ there's more! 'Food is America's most important business and its largest export,' says editor Andrew F. Smith in the introduction. And this encyclopedia, almost 1600 pages, dishes it out, in more than 200 entries ranging from 'Adulterations and Advertising' to 'Zombie.' Fast food is here. So are Slow Food, Funeral Food, School Food, Prison Food, Meals on Wheels, Firehouse Cooking, Food Festivals, ethnic and regional foods like Southeast Asian American Food, Appalachian Food, and Creole Food. There is even Space Food, followed, in the alphabetical organization of this encyclopedia, by Spam. This book reclaims the history of Native American food and African-American food, in two lengthy essays. How Americans talk about food is covered in Literature and Food, Film and Food, Food Poetry, Food Songs, and Food Slang: 'Go bananas,' 'Name your poison,' and 'moo juice' (milk). This is also a political book and a history book. It explains American laws, from farm subsidies to the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and food stamps. It also puts American food in the context of not just American history, but world history, with entries like Hors d'Oeuvres in History. The section on Southwestern Regional Cookery goes back to 1598 in Spanish colonial New Mexico. The history of food history and culinary organizations is covered, too. The illustrations alone are worth the price. Many are from the personal collection of editor Andrew Smith, like the cooking pamphlet issued when Gone With the Wind came out in 1939. Smith, one of the foremost food historians in the world, with books about tomatoes, ketchup, and popcorn, among others, wrote a staggering 91 of the entries himself. Buy this wonderful book. Go bananas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2004


    I had guests over the day the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in Amereica arrived. We must have spent an hour taking turns quoting from different entries and pointing out illustrations of everything from the first Aunt Jemima advertisements to modern reenactments of the first person who dared to eat a tomato. Did you know that Harvard students successfully petitioned for President Nathaniel Eaton¿s removal in 1639 for failing to maintain the students¿ beer supply? That White Castle was the first fast food chain and is also credited with popularizing the hamburger? That Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey would be a much more appropriate national symbol than the bald eagle? Every page offers some enlightening details about the history and cultural context of American food and drink that we take for granted or assume can¿t be that interesting. So far I have read about half the entries in no special order-- it's an encyclopedia after all-- but now I intend to read it from beginning to end. I highly recommend The Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America to foodies of all types, trivia buffs, chefs, weekend cooks, restauranteurs, and anyone who just wants a good read. It is a well documented reference work, but there are numerous illustrations and anecdotes which brings American culinary history alive. T.A. Kovachev

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2004

    An Outstanding Resource

    I sit here with my two newly acquired volumes of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America in absolute awe! With almost 200 contributors, almost 800 entries and nearly 400 illustrations, editor Andy Smith and Oxford University Press have done a magnificent job of putting together what is clearly the most comprehensive work on this immensely broad subject ever undertaken. Whether you are a food professional or interested amateur, a historian, sociologist or anthropologist, a student or scholar, these volumes will no doubt become your most important resource for information related in any way to the history of food and drink in America. The scope is astounding, spanning some five centuries and ranging from events and trends to products, from ethnic, religions and cultural influences to political and social movements in American history, and also includes dozens of biographical entries of important contributors and influences on the development of culinary life and gastronomy in America. Despite the enormity of this work, it is refreshingly approachable, set forth alphabetically, written in clear language, translated when needed, and annotated and supplemented with bibliographical information for those wishing to explore further. As a food professional-recipe developer, food writer and culinary educator-there is no doubt in my mind that these pages will soon be worn and this seminal work will remain among my most valued and cherished resources for as long as my interest in food and gastronomy is alive.

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