Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America's Favorite Bird

Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America's Favorite Bird

by Emelyn Rude


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From the domestication of the bird nearly ten thousand years ago to its current status as our go-to meat, the history of this seemingly commonplace bird is anything but ordinary.

How did chicken achieve the culinary ubiquity it enjoys today? It’s hard to imagine, but there was a point in history, not terribly long ago, that individual people each consumed less than ten pounds of chicken per year. Today, those numbers are strikingly different: we consumer nearly twenty-five times as much chicken as our great-grandparents did.

Collectively, Americans devour 73.1 million pounds of chicken in a day, close to 8.6 billion birds per year. How did chicken rise from near-invisibility to being in seemingly "every pot," as per Herbert Hoover's famous promise?

Emelyn Rude explores this fascinating phenomenon in Tastes Like Chicken. With meticulous research, Rude details the ascendancy of chicken from its humble origins to its centrality on grocery store shelves and in restaurants and kitchens. Along the way, she reveals startling key points in its history, such as the moment it was first stuffed and roasted by the Romans, how the ancients’ obsession with cockfighting helped the animal reach Western Europe, and how slavery contributed to the ubiquity of fried chicken today.

In the spirit of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Bee Wilson's Consider the Fork, Tastes Like Chicken is a fascinating, clever, and surprising discourse on one of America’s favorite foods.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681771632
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Emelyn Rude has been a food writer for TIME and Vice and media manager for some of New York City’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs. She is a contributor to National Geographic’s “The Plate” and is a National Geographic Young Explorer. This is her first book.

Table of Contents

A Fowl Introduction ix

1 The Early Bird 1

2 A Healing Broth 12

3 The General Chicken Merchants 27

4 Of Chicken and Champagne 40

5 The Poor Man's Chicken 55

6 America's EGG Basket 68

7 Calories and Constituents 84

8 The Kosher Chicken Wars 95

9 Celia Steele's Modest Endeavor 108

10 They Saw in Hens a Way 121

11 A Chicken for Every Grill 130

12 A Nugget Worth More Than Gold 149

13 The Tale of the Colonel and the General 166

14 The Modern Chicken 181

The End and the Beginning 193

Endnotes 201

Recipe Citations 239

Photography Permissions 245

Bibliography 249

Acknowledgments 265

Index 267

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