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American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes
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American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  225 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
A celebrated food writer gathers the very best from more than 250 years of American culinary history and chronicles the astonishing variety of American cuisine. The contributors cover a range of subjects and perspectives on all things food related; also includes more than 50 classic recipes.
Hardcover, 700 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Library of America
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Collected Works by Flannery O'ConnorFour Novels of the 1960s by Philip K. DickTales by H.P. LovecraftCollected Stories by Raymond CarverPoetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
Library of America
69th out of 170 books — 23 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
218th out of 762 books — 1,407 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 698)
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Aug 09, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An anthology of American food prose and recipes from 1753 to the present. Some amazing pieces from the country's early years demonstrate that not only does the US definitely have a rich food culture, it's been around long enough that we've actually lost and forgotten some dishes that used to be hugely popular. Who knew how much beaver tail, canvasback duck, and turtle soup we used to eat?

There are pieces here by everyone from Thomas Jefferson, to Alice B. Toklas, to Ray Kroc. That's an incredibl
Apr 28, 2008 Aharon rated it really liked it
The tyranny of pie! Feasting on turtles! And on and on and on! Excellent! Then we get to about 1983, and suddenly we're deconstructing what it means to eat, so skip the last 200 pages.
Feb 02, 2016 Sabrina rated it it was amazing
The foodie and the avid reader in me did a little happy dance over this book.

This book is an anthology with classic recipes sprinkled throughout. It's not a cookbook. Rather, it's an anthology featuring accounts of "iconic American foods" by some well-known writers:

**Henry David Thoreau writes about the delights of bread and watermelon.

**Herman Melville writes about the glories clam chowder.

**H. L. Mencken immortalizes the hot dog.

**M.F.K. Fisher writes in praise of the oyster.

**Ralph Ellison wa
Apr 06, 2012 Hillary rated it really liked it
I never did make it through all of the essays and excerpts before finally running out of renewals at the library. But I loved each and every one that I read. They were all the perfect length -- long enough to get me interested and engaged but not so long that I got bored. Reading this collection felt like a guilty indulgence for some reason, though I have a tendency to feel that way about any book that isn't somehow improving my farming knowledge. I had a hard time putting this book down and wou ...more
Madara Mason
Feb 17, 2013 Madara Mason marked it as to-read
This is a really lovely collection of food writing. Molly O'Neill has picked out some great writers, and the short but interesting history of food in America is well represented from Thomas Jefferson to Anthony Bourdain. Well known writers like Ruth Reichl and M.F.K. Fisher get plenty of page time, but other lesser-known writers and cooks have their say too. If I ever get a chance to teach a class on Food Writing, this is most certainly one of the "textbooks" of food writing I will put on the re ...more
Sep 23, 2010 Jodi rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating history of food writing. It took me ages to get through this book because it was so dense with information and different writing styles starting from pre-Revolutionary times to modern day. The recipes were mostly too complicated or involved foods I no longer eat for health reasons. It didn't matter because it was interesting to see how recipe writing changed over the years. I learned a lot and have new respect for some of the current food writers like Michael Pollan. I als ...more
Mar 28, 2008 Joyce added it
Shelves: librarybook
Fascinating survey of writing about American food, with characteristic recipes. I learned that for many decades the most famous American foods were canvasback duck and terrapin. A surprising subtheme that emerged clearly was that the "gourmet" movement did as much to kill American home cooking as the much-reviled "processed foods" movement.

Two quibbles: first off, for a city girl the editor has almost nothing to say about immigrant foods (except Chinese); and many of these pieces are very clearl
Kristen Northrup
Mar 08, 2009 Kristen Northrup rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 08, 2007 Kyla rated it really liked it
This was a perfect companion book if you like to juggle books like I do - I wouldn't sit down and read it from cover to cover in one sitting, but I kept it at hand when I needed a break from my other books to dip into, to snack on if you will. With concise, well-chosen selections from powerhouses like MFK Fisher, Laurie Colwin et al. I dog-eared a number of selections for further investigation too. A giant book of food writing - could it get much better?
Feb 22, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
I enjoy this genre of book (ie - Heat, Garlic and Sapphires, etc.) This is a nice anthology and is particularly interesting because it includes food writing dating back to the earliest days of our country. With the local/seasonal food movement in so popular, it was interesting to read not only how people ate what was available to them, but also how early on people tried to "import" exotic and non-local foods and spices.
Jun 03, 2008 Carrie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's an anthology of American food writing (as if you couldn't tell from the title) from the 1700s to the present day - perfect to pick up and read a selection or two whenever you are in the mood. It also introduced me to some new food writers that I am looking forward to reading more of.
Derek Stiles
Aug 06, 2009 Derek Stiles rated it really liked it
Just the foreword was worth checking out this book. It's a series of short essays on food from the colonies forward, with a few recipes of the time thrown in. I'm only at 1842, but it's so cool. I think there are a lot of lost truly American recipes (especially those that incorporate squirrel and raccoon).
Mar 16, 2008 Lorna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foodies history buffs
Shelves: reshelved
A compendium of random food writing from notable and rare heroes and nobodies. This book gives me a sense of American history and has taken me to the kitchen a few times already with its recipies. Would be easier to read if it were a more continuous book, but then it would be a different book.
Virginia Scharff
Sep 22, 2010 Virginia Scharff rated it really liked it
Some absolutely fantastic selections (so far, my favorite is Edna Lewis on hog-slaughtering time). And some not so interesting stuff (Evan Hunter on pancakes, from the era when hard-boiled prose meant you could repeat yourself a lot). On balance, a super resource to sample selectively.
This so an excellent anthology but was a hard read - I just never found a groove with it in terms of reading straight through or browsing. Lots of teases in some ways and excellent writing about food that spans US history - lots of interesting and delicious reflections.
Nov 26, 2007 Emily rated it liked it
It seems a bit silly to review an anthology and I can't say this one was particularly special. It did introduce me to some new food writers (I got Clementine in the Kitchen after reading an excerpt) but how many clever essays about fried chicken do you really want to read?
Oct 28, 2008 Lyra rated it really liked it
"People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating, and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do? The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry." -MFK Fisher
Bookmarks Magazine

A cookbook author, memoirist, and longtime New York Times food columnist, Molly O'Neill has been a hardcore foodie for more years than most of us have been using utensils. In American Food Writing, O'Neill pleases just about everyone

mindy Marranca
Jul 07, 2010 mindy Marranca rated it liked it
saw her speak at Chautauqua a few years ago - and was interested in both how she put the book together and the historical perspective on food writing.

I didn't read entire thing - more skimming - but interesting - and with recipes. worth a perusal!
Julie Davis
Dec 06, 2013 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and broad selection of pieces ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Michael Pollen. Hear a few samples at Forgotten Classics.
May 27, 2008 Hatuxka rated it really liked it
American food is great or was great before it was ultra processed, packaged and long distance shipping-based. Here is how to see the real roots of it.
Jan 08, 2013 Imogen marked it as to-read
So far so good - I have a feeling this will influence our meals over the next few weeks. Though I still don't know where to buy cornmeal in Australia.

MaryBeth Donnelly
Feb 02, 2008 MaryBeth Donnelly rated it really liked it
This is a great book to skip around and find a chapter that interests you. Some great recipes! Anyone interested in food writing should enjoy this.
Jan 06, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Loved this anthology. I didn't read the entire book, because it was for a classroom assignment. I would like to buy this and read it later.
Jul 14, 2013 Kat rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbook
it was nice to be able to read snippets of various food writing, bad thing about this book was how large it was, too heavy to lug around.
Jul 22, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
had to return the book- great to dip into for food related essays from unusual sources. Tales of a Lillian Hellman's cocktail party, etc.
Jun 11, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it
Not a cookbook, but an anthology that is a social history of gastronomy in this country. I miss Laurie Colwin.
Jan 06, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it
Didn't read cover to cover but skipped around. Lot's of cooking essays from which to choose!
Elizabeth Bradley
Nov 13, 2007 Elizabeth Bradley rated it really liked it
Delicious, exhaustive, smart, and recipes to boot. James Beard's Beef Stroganoff...
Jun 11, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
perfect for stories about food but not recipes like I thought there would be.
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