John's Reviews > A Short History of the American Stomach

A Short History of the American Stomach by Frederick Kaufman
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's review
Jan 11, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, history
Read in January, 2012

In a riveting, often hilarious, and unforgettable account, Frederick Kaufman has written a witty polemical exploration of American history via its culinary history - or rather, to be so blunt, American stomachs - in his "A Short History of the American Stomach". Kaufman's surprisingly terse account echoes the young Tom Wolfe in crafting a most riveting narrative; one which cites the likes of Cotton Mather, Washington Irving, Mark Twain and Julia Child. He demonstrates how cooking can be seen as a metaphor for American sexual behavior, with the photographer Barbara Nitke - known for her sexually explicit photographs - as a most passionate, quite suitable, guide. Kaufman introduces us to eating contest champion Dale Boone (a direct descendant of Daniel Bone) as he surveys the history of extreme eaters ranging from Paul Bunyan to the present. He also bemoans the substantial decline - to the brink of extinction - of the American oyster due to overfishing and offers an informative account describing how genetic engineering might revive American oyster fisheries. Without a doubt, Kaufman has written a wonderful example of narrative nonfiction that should interest even those who have ample disinterest in American culinary history.

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