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Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food i
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Simon & Schuster
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Navidad Thelamour
Sarah Lohman’s Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine offers an eclectic and thought-provoking survey into American culinary culture and palettes. She traces our culinary roots and, through professional and personal experience, as well as meticulous research, offers up the history of eight spices that can be found in modern American kitchens today. But where did these spices come from, and how did they become so commonly used in our culture? These are the questions that Lohman probe ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Patty rated it really liked it
A nonfiction book about the history of American cooking. Lohman organizes the book around eight popular flavors, arranged chronologically as to their appearance in mainstream American food: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha. Each has a chapter dedicated to it, which Lohman fills with stories of the people involved in the invention or popularizing of a flavor, such as Edmond Albius, a young slave on Madagascar who discovered how to artificiall ...more
Nov 14, 2016 Kristine rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early November.

Very cheerfully not what you'd expect from a food historian, Lohman brings modern cooking, some history, a smattering of science, and gleeful, welcome, excited scatterbrainedness to each of 8 flavors' 40-45 page chapters. A lot like if Bill Nye and Andrew Zimmern held up their hands in a high five of partnership and started jotting down cookbook ideas with their other hands.
Allen Adams

In a lot of circumstances, eight isn’t a particularly high number. But according to a new book, the foundation of American cuisine through the centuries can be explored via just eight flavors.

That’s the premise of the aptly-named “Eight Flavors” (Simon & Schuster, $26) by historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman. Subtitled “The Untold Story of American Cuisine,” the book purports to take the reader on a culinary journey across this nation’s food history, f
Nov 04, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

In Eight Flavors, Sarah Lohman examines the 8 flavors that she feels have shaped American cuisine. Each chapter examines a different flavor from a historical, scientific and in-use angle. The flavors are arranged in order from how they were introduced to the United States: Black Pepper, Vanilla, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, Soy Sauce, Garlic, Monosodium Glutamate, and Sriracha.

The historical aspects are very well researched, and in some points get into a little too much detail. (For exa
Olivia Ard
Dec 08, 2016 Olivia Ard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman uses her background in historical cooking to examine the eight flavors that define American cuisine: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha. For each flavor, Lohman goes into a detailed account of the flavor's history in the United States, how it is harvested/produced, as well as provides ways it has been used over time. Each chapter has a few recipes showing the versatility of the ingredient.

Culinary history i
Mary Sue
Jan 16, 2017 Mary Sue rated it really liked it
Sarah Lohman educates us in an interesting profile of the eight flavors she feels have influenced American Cuisine the most. She did immediately addressed the challenging question I had...what about Chocolate and Coffee? She feels there have been many entire books written about these two flavors and that subject is well covered. Beyond the introduction, which shouldn't be skipped, are eight chapters each covering the important flavors she selected: Black Pepper, Vanilla, Chili Powder, Curry Powd ...more
Zhi Chen
Jan 18, 2017 Zhi Chen rated it liked it
As my first introduction to food history, Eight Flavors certainly whetted my appetite for more. Devoting each chapter to one of the eight flavors that shaped American cuisine, Lohman provides an account of her personal relationship with the flavor, a brief historical review with short biographies of the major figures involved, some modernized recipes, and a bit of food science. There is certainly potential for each chapter to evolve into separate books as the stories behind each flavor are indee ...more
Oct 23, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
This is the perfect book for me! I enjoy food and I enjoy reading about US history. This book combines the best of both. I loved how the author took eight commonly used flavors and told the story of how each became integrated into the American culinary scene. The discussions are very engaging and contain lots of interesting historical anecdotes. Think how impressed my guests will be when I serve my Texas chili and share some of these details with
Dec 23, 2016 xq rated it it was amazing
I've been lucky enough to attend a handful of Sarah's lectures through Masters of Social Gastronomy and was overjoyed to hear she was writing a book. This book encompasses everything I love about MSG talks, I love learning about the history of food and socioeconomic factors involved. What brings it to life is Sarah's lively writing and personality infused throughout, otherwise it would be a bit dry even to a nerd like me. Bonus exciting things for me: seeing MoFaD mentioned (where i volunteer) a ...more
This is a short, quick read on a very interesting topic. Loved learning about the history of American cuisine and how these eight flavors made it to US soil and into our everyday cooking. Sarah Lohman's job sounds like the best thing ever and if I lived in New York, I would totally try and be friends with her. Considering how many times she was like "I invited my friends over for a dinner party where I made...." or how she did an entire Colonial-era food themed dinner - so cool! I also learned t ...more
Dec 04, 2016 Candice rated it it was amazing
I received an e ARC of this book for review from the Publisher through Netgalley and I can't wait to purchase my own physical copy of this book. I went into this book a bit hesitant because it is a history of eight different flavors in American cuisine and it could've been a bit boring to me. However, Sarah Lohman is an incredible story teller and even though there is a precise history to each of the eight ingredients, it was so wonderful to read.

See my full review on my blog.
Rachel Blakeman
Jan 02, 2017 Rachel Blakeman rated it liked it
For a book all about flavors, this book fell flat for me. I was hoping or perhaps more accurately expecting a book about food trends as related to these flavors, much like "Dorito Effect" or "Devoured." Alas it was more a history tale of key people who brought us this ingredient, interspersed with recipes I have no desire to make (although they were not bad to read). Overall a good concept but the execution never resonated with me.
Jan 08, 2017 Paul rated it really liked it
Interesting breakdown of these 8 flavors, especially MSG. I like the history lesson for these ingredients. I'm really curious to try some of the foods some 200 years ago, historically prepared.
Jan 04, 2017 Krissy rated it liked it
The history of pepper, vanilla, and chili were really fascinating.
Jan 18, 2017 Pam rated it really liked it
This is a great, wonderful book for cooks, historians, and people who just love to eat!
Jan 19, 2017 Joann rated it really liked it
And now I want to cook Martha Washington's roast venison and black pepper spice cookies!
Jan 17, 2017 Dayna rated it really liked it
This is a very quick read, and it was a fun way to learn about the history in America of eight flavors with Sarah Lohman as my guide.
Jan 02, 2017 Diane marked it as to-read
From the Christian Science Monitor: "Lohman, who runs the historic gastronomy blog Four Pounds Flour, argues in "Eight Flavors" that the story of American cuisine can be told through eight dominant flavors: black pepper, vanilla, MSG, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic and Sriracha. One part travelogue, one part history, and one part recipe book, 'Eight Flavors is a fascinating and thought-provoking tour of the history of America as told through the lens of its culinary innovations. T ...more
Jan 13, 2017 Maria rated it really liked it
Fun, insightful, and filled with little known historical tidbits. If you are a foodie, read it! The story of vanilla is especially intriguing for me, as someone who pays attention to the legacies of colonialism.
Jan 08, 2017 Kim rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at the culinary history of America! Some of the anecdotes go on longer than necessary, but it's still an interesting & quick read.
Jan 05, 2017 Alix rated it really liked it
Appropriately devored this book. Food history, culture, American history (including wars and racism), science for eight flavors encountered every day (and some of them I had never met before moving to the US). Highly recommend.
For a crash course in American trade and immigration, read this book. Sarah Lohman is a gastronomist with a deep interest in the flavors and recipes that shaped American cuisine. According to her website, she “recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past.” She begins the book by showing what initially sparked her interest in old American cooking, when she was a teenager working at one of those authentic old timey villages. She was intrigued that in the time of ...more
Aug 27, 2016 Betty rated it it was amazing
Eight Flavors The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman

Eight Flavors takes the reader from the search for black pepper in 1801 in Salem, MA to the birth of Sriracha in CA in 1980. The twists and turns of the eight flavors and their arrival, embrace and in one case rejection (MSG) in the US makes for an interesting read.

Sarah Lohman has done her research and produced a book that not only deals with the history of the eight flavors, but the chemistry, the human interest angles and many
roxi Net
Aug 31, 2016 roxi Net rated it it was amazing
This is one of the coolest "foodie" books I've read to date - Ms. Lohman drew me in immediately as she described her job at an outdoor historical museum and her first foray into the cooking world of the 19th century. The history and science she provides about these 8 flavors are amazing and I have not looked at these ingredients the same way. The recipes that she's included are amazing (Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Black Pepper Ganache) and the fact that she's included food historian stories thr ...more
Michelle Jenkins
Nov 25, 2016 Michelle Jenkins rated it really liked it
**ARC provided by publisher for review**
Go look in your pantry and fridge and almost certainly you’ll find these eight items in your kitchen: black pepper, garlic, vanilla, chili powder, curry, soy sauce, sriracha, and MSG. They’ve been there so long, you probably take them for granted. And still, it’s hard to imagine how bland our diets would be without them.

Sarah Lohman’s Eight Flavors chronicles the arrival and mainstreaming of these eight ingredients on American shores and in American kitch
Margaret Sankey
Jul 16, 2016 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
This is a good food history, but it is a really great use of Google Books analytics. Lohman identified eight flavor trends in American cuisine and then tracked their first appearance in print and the evolution of their mainstream acceptance. Along the way, she finds some patterns--contact with an exotic "other," then status as a luxury good, then male emigrants who never cooked for themselves trying to replicate their home cooking via a shortcut (chili powder, curry powder, commercially brewed s ...more
Dec 18, 2016 m_miriam rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I received this book for free on Goodreads in a giveaway. I wound up listening to The Sporkful's "Who is this Restaurant For?" series while reading this book, which influenced my perspective. Also, the chapter on chili powder featured some history of the town where I was born, which made that section particularly interesting. That said, I appreciated what the author was trying to do, but the end result felt one-dimensional and fell flat for me.
Jul 31, 2016 Ang rated it it was amazing
This was really great. The combination of history, recipes and first-hand experiences really make this a winner. I can't recommend it highly enough if you like reading about food.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital ARC!
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