Ten Restaurants That Changed Americaby Paul Freedman, Danny Meyer
Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself.
From Delmonico’s to Sylvia’s to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out in America as told through ten legendary restaurants.
Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald's. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.
This eminently readable food history charts the course of U.S. culture through familiar restaurants such as Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA; Delmonico's and the Four Seasons in New York; Harlem, NY, staple Sylvia's; Antoine's in New Orleans; former candy chain Schrafft's; San Francisco's the Mandarin; and fast food chain Howard Johnson. According to Freedman (history, Yale Univ.; Out of the East), these eateries defined how we dine today. The author devotes a chapter to each of the restaurants, describing how they came to be popular and how that success translated into a larger societal impact. Packed with photos and menus, the book further includes an appendix with recipes. VERDICT In a narrative that is intellectually delicious, Freedman presents a new way of thinking about "you are what you eat." This will appeal widely, engaging readers with both a casual or scholarly interest in food history and its influence on American culture in the late 19th and 20th centuries.—Courtney McDonald, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
A robust historical trek through America’s restaurant cuisine over three centuries.Rather than a mere listing of the 10 best restaurants in the country, Freedman (History/Yale Univ.; Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, 2008, etc.) establishes these 10 as significant representatives of specific times, places, and trends in American culture. Delightfully illustrated with menus, photos, and other visual accompaniments, the narrative delves into each of the 10 restaurants’ unique stories, beginning with America’s first restaurant, Delmonico’s, which “would offer impeccable French cuisine worthy of Paris.” Opened in 1827 in New York City, “it set a pattern for what fine dining meant for the nineteenth century and had many worthy and successful imitators.” The author also recounts the story of Antoine’s in New Orleans; how the many branches of Schrafft’s courted women customers while expanding middle-class restaurant options; and why the rise of automobile travel created the need for consistent meals at reasonable prices and how Howard Johnson successfully filled this need and led to the concept of franchising. Freedman tracks the demise of the reverence for French food and the rise of the power lunch, and he shows how the mass migration of African-Americans from the South led to the hunger for what became known as “soul food.” The author concludes with a chapter detailing the still-reverberating changes in the food world wrought by Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, where “the combination of uniquely delicious food and barely controlled chaos would remain a constant for decades.” For those intrepid readers wanting more tasty tidbits, Freedman includes a selected bibliography, dozens of notes, and an appendix containing such classic recipes as Sylvia’s Boiled String Beans with Ham or Chez Panisse’s Curly Endive, Radicchio, and Fuyu Persimmon Salad. Culinary historians, those besotted with food culture, and curious general readers will all find something of value in this well-researched, entertaining social and cultural history.
- Liveright Publishing Corporation
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- Product dimensions:
- 7.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)
Meet the Author
Paul Freedmanis a history professor at Yale University. The editor of the ICP Award–winning Food: The
History of Taste and the author of Out of the East: Spices and the
Medieval Imagination, he lives in Pelham, New York.
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