American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes

American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes

by Molly O'Neill (Editor)


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In this groundbreaking anthology, celebrated food writer Molly O’Neill gathers the very best from over 250 years of American culinary history. This literary feast includes classic accounts of iconic American foods: Henry David Thoreau on the delights of watermelon; Herman Melville, with a mouth-watering chapter on clam chowder; H. L. Mencken on the hot dog; M. F. K. Fisher in praise of the oyster; Ralph Ellison on the irresistible appeal of baked yam; William Styron on Southern fried chicken. American writers abroad, like A. J. Liebling, Waverly Root, and Craig Claiborne, describe the revelations they found in foreign restaurants; travellers to America, including the legendary French gourmet J. A. Brillat-Savarin, discover such native delicacies as turkey, Virginia barbecue, and pumpkin pie. Great chefs and noted critics discuss their culinary philosophies and offer advice on the finer points of technique; home cooks recount disasters and triumphs. A host of eminent American writers, from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walt Whitman to Thomas Wolfe, Willa Cather, and Langston Hughes, add their distinctive viewpoints to the mix.

American Food Writing celebrates the astonishing variety of American foodways, with accounts from almost every corner of the country and a host of ethnic traditions: Dutch, Cuban, French, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Irish, Indian, Scandinavian, Native American, African, English, Japanese, and Mexican. A surprising range of subjects and perspectives emerge, as writers address such topics as fast food, hunger, dieting, and the relationship between food and sex. James Villas offers a behind-the-scenes look at gourmet dining through a waiter’s eyes; Anthony Bourdain recalls his days at the Culinary Institute of America; Julia Child remembers the humble beginnings of her much-loved television series; Nora Ephron chronicles internecine warfare among members of the “food establishment”; Michael Pollan explores what the label “organic” really means.

Throughout the anthology are more than fifty classic recipes, selected after extensive research from cookbooks both vintage and modern, and certain to instruct, delight, and inspire home chefs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781598530414
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 01/22/2009
Series: Library of America Series
Pages: 753
Product dimensions: 8.76(w) x 6.34(h) x 1.41(d)

About the Author

Molly O’Neill, editor, was food columnist for The New York Times for a decade and host of the PBS series Great Food. Her work has appeared in many national magazines, and she is the author of three cookbooks, including the award-winning New York Cookbook. Her most recent book is Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball.

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American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
'Food, glorious food! Eat right through the menu.' Readers will be tempted to follow that lyrical advice when they discover the mouth-watering recipes in American Food Writing, a veritable historic and cultural feast that traces our love affair with food from Thomas Jefferson's favorite ice cream to Michael Pollen's comments on the upsurge of interest in organic foods. Charles Ranhofer (1836 - 1899) was the chef at Delmonico's in New York City for some 30 years. If anyone could describe how to serve an epicurean feast he could and did. Thoreau, of course, had quite different ideas about our daily bread, we read: 'I learned from my two years experience that it would cost incredibly little trouble to obtain one's necessary food.....that a man may use as simple a diet as the animals, and yet retain health and strength.' Not every man's idea of dinner, I imagine. Jade Snow Wong (1922 - 2006) gives instruction on how to shop on a budget for the very best in meat and produce, and how to cook rice. One of my favorite entries is Julia Child's reminiscence about her television series. However, picking favorite isn't an easy task in this 784 page volume that holds among others praise of the oyster by M.F.K. fisher, and William Styron's delight in Southern Fried Chicken. Laced throughout this volume are comments by notable chefs, critics, and home cooks plus 50 recipes, both vintage and modern. Seldom has food been discussed so thoroughly and invitingly as it is in American Food Writing. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke
choochee More than 1 year ago
This book is expensive, but worth every penny. The recipes are intriguing and the writing is exquisite.
karenmerguerian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First, I'm not enamored of the early American so-called food writers, until the second half of the twentieth century, they all seemed very tedious and unfunny. Second, the entire book is way too heavily focused on French cuisine, which apparently Americans have been obsessed with for 200 years. Third, the receipes scattered throughout had little or nothing to do with the essays. They seemed randomly chosen. Fourth, the individual essays did not have dates, you had to hunt in the bibliography to see when they were written. Overall the selections were disappointing. I think I would have chosen to start with the brief paragraph describing the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving. I would have included Laura Ingalls Wilder's opening chapter to Little House in the Big Woods, with the shockingly violent and yet somehow joyful slaughtering of the pig, which is at the foundation of America's attitude to food. I would have excerpted something from the incredibly influential Diet for a Small Planet. Instead of the endless writings about France the chapter of Elizabeth Fernia's description of a feast in an Iraqi village would have been a refreshing change. David Barry's description of food in Japan is fantastic, too, and way funnier than any of the comic writing here.Where O'Neill did choose some good writers, she picked some of their most mundane prose. For example Ruth Reichl's famous review of Le Cirque, very typically American in its concern for equal treatment to all, should have been included instead of the workmanlike review of a sushi restaurant that O'Neill chose. Also something a little more amusing by Julia Child, maybe the chapter where her husband puts the dirty dishes in the pot of veal stock or something. And something from Nora Ephron's sad/funny Heartburn, for which I've always had a soft spot. How can you find something boring in the Federal Writers Project food writings? Somehow O'Neill managed to do it. The whole thing was such a huge disappointment. One thing I will say is that it made me want to edit my own anthology someday.
MariaAlhambra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent anthology of American food writing, with a great and very amusing selection. Selections cover the history of American food classics like gumbo, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies and others; but also the creation of Mc Donalds, processed food and gourmet snobbery. Particular highlights are a cake recipe by Emily Dickinson (complete with dashes) and Russell Baker's hilarious mock-banquet.
kristenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This took me two years to finish! Mostly because I kept it at my boyfriend's apartment to read when he was doing things like (appropriately) cooking dinner. Anthologies work very well for that. I think spacing out the reading actually kept the pieces more interesting because there wasn't the risk of them all mushing together after a while. I'd seen some of the pieces before, but that's inevitable for a collection of this sort. And I found quite a few new authors to look into further. Oddly, the (only) two really unpleasant pieces were back to back.