Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled HowAmerica Ate

Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled HowAmerica Ate

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by Kelly Alexander, Cynthia Harris
     
 

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A rollicking biography of a pioneering American woman and one of our greatest culinary figures

In Hometown Appetites, Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris come together to revive the legacy of the most important food writer you have never heard of. Clementine Paddleford was a Kansas farm girl who grew up to chronicle America's culinary habits. Her

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Overview

A rollicking biography of a pioneering American woman and one of our greatest culinary figures

In Hometown Appetites, Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris come together to revive the legacy of the most important food writer you have never heard of. Clementine Paddleford was a Kansas farm girl who grew up to chronicle America's culinary habits. Her weekly readership at the New York Herald Tribune topped 12 million during the 1950s and 1960s and she earned a salary of $250,000. Yet twenty years after 'America's best-known food editor' passed away, she had been forgotten-until now.

Before Paddleford, newspaper food sections were dull primers on home economy. But she changed all of that, composing her own brand of sassy, unerringly authoritative prose designed to celebrate regional home cooking. This book restores Paddleford's name where it belongs: in the pantheon alongside greats like James Beard and Julia Child.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Selected as one of the 2009 Kansas Notable Books In "Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris's smartly drawn, surprisingly uplifting biography [...] the authors share Paddleford's eye for a good story, deftly documenting their subject's well-deserved contributions to food journalism, but balancing them with biographical color."
-New York Post

"Alexander and Harris paint an affectionate portrait of the eccentric writer, an ebullient yet imposing individualist and charismatic adventurer...Rich, flavorful and spirited, like its subject and the cuisines she chronicled."
-Kirkus

"At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune...The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes."
-Publishers Weekly

Belle Elving
In her prime, Paddleford had 12 million readers. When she died in 1967, her obituary ran in all of the country's major newspapers. Her reputation has faded ever since, eclipsed now by legions of more sophisticated food writers and celebrity chefs. This biography, by Kelly Alexander, a food writer and editor at Saveur magazine, and Cynthia Harris, an archivist at Kansas State University, is an energetic attempt to rescue Paddleford from obscurity. The story they have unearthed proves as illuminating of the era as it does of the woman herself. It also whets the appetite to go back and read the real thing.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune. Alexander, whose article on Paddleford for Saveur won the James Beard Journalism Award in 2002, and Harris, the archivist at Kansas State Univ., to which native Paddleford left her papers, happily resurrect Paddleford's work. An indefatigable journalist, Paddleford broke with the staid home-economics primers of the era. With humble Midwest beginnings and a degree in industrial journalism, Paddleford set out for New York City to make a name for herself, and found that her energy and sheer prodigiousness opened doors at popular publications like Farm & Fireside, Christian Herald and This Week, the Tribune 's Sunday magazine. Influenced by the peripatetic culinary adventures of salesman Duncan Hines, Paddleford launched, in 1948, a series of columns in This Week called "How America Eats," spotlighting regional cooks and their down-home specialties. With her trademark florid prose and historic touches, Paddleford became widely known, and her subsequent book, How America Eats(1960), became a bestseller. The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes. (Sept.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Biography of the Kansas-born journalist who built an ahead-of-the curve career traveling the world to report on food and the people who cooked it. Before Clementine Paddleford (1898-1967), food writing lacked the joy, whimsy and sophistication we now associate with it, contend the authors. Former Saveur editor Alexander and Kansas State University archivist Harris, an authority on the school's Paddleford collection, believe that their subject's primary goal was to address American home cooks' concerns while enlivening the social history of the foods she tasted. To this end, she ventured onto a submarine and into Joan Crawford's apartment, as well as the kitchens of countless homemakers known to her through written correspondence. The authors emulate Paddleford's endeavor to connect cooking to the lives, traditions and personalities of real people. The biography doubles as a cookbook; it's peppered with recipes tested for publication just as they were in Paddleford's day, each tied to a moment in her career the same way she connected each recipe to a story. Alexander and Harris paint an affectionate portrait of the eccentric writer, an ebullient yet imposing individualist and charismatic adventurer. Undergoing a throat-cancer-induced tracheotomy at age 33, Paddleford covered the button she pressed to speak with a signature velvet choker necklace and decided to assume that her jarring voice was memorable rather than off-putting. In an era when far fewer women went to college or aspired to professional careers, the ingredients in her recipe for success were tireless enthusiasm, self-confidence, independence and ambition. She was completely herself with no apologies, rather than muffling herindividuality to become more marketable. The authors cite Julia Child and Rachael Ray as Paddleford's heirs. Rich, flavorful and spirited, like its subject and the cuisines she chronicled. Agent: Michael Psaltis/Regal Literary

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592404841
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,210,471
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Regina Shrambling
Reading Clementine Paddleford as a kid taught me the value of a bizarre byline. Now she's been rediscovered for a new generation as a character worthy of that singular name.
Adam Platt
If the U.S.A. can be said to have a national palate, then it was Ms. Clementine Paddleford, from Manhattan, Kansas, who invented it. This colorful, lively, intricately researched biography brings this forgotten hero of the great American food revolution, vividly to life. (Adam Platt, food and restaurant columnist, New York magazine)
Barbara Kafka
Finally a wonderful book about the missing great presence in American food, Clementine Paddlefor, the flaky and adventurous original. (Barbara Kafka, author of Vegetable Love and Soup, A Way of Life)
From the Publisher
Selected as one of the 2009 Kansas Notable Books In "Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris's smartly drawn, surprisingly uplifting biography [...] the authors share Paddleford's eye for a good story, deftly documenting their subject's well-deserved contributions to food journalism, but balancing them with biographical color."
-New York Post

"Alexander and Harris paint an affectionate portrait of the eccentric writer, an ebullient yet imposing individualist and charismatic adventurer...Rich, flavorful and spirited, like its subject and the cuisines she chronicled."
-Kirkus

"At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune...The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes."
-Publishers Weekly

Steven Shaw
The next best thing to a dinner invitation from Clementine Paddleford herself, Hometown Appetites is a riveting three-dimensional portrait of this iconic American food personality. (Steven Shaw, author of Turning the Tables and Asian Dining Rules)
Michael Ruhlman
Alexander and Harris's excellent biography tells the story foremost of a journalist, a writer who travelled tens of thousands of miles in pursuit of first hand accounts of the way we live. Clementine Paddleford was among the first American writers to sense that what and how we ate day to day, whether in Hawaii, Louisiana or Kansas, or New York, provided a clear view of what America was as a nation. Hometown Appetites is fascinating, long overdue account of a seminal figure in America's food revolution. (Michael Ruhlman, author of The Elements of Cooking)

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