Ten Restaurants That Changed America
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Featuring a new chapter on ten restaurants changing America today, a “fascinating . . . sweep through centuries of food culture” (Washington Post). Combining an historian’s rigor with a food enthusiast’s palate, Paul Freedman’s seminal and highly entertaining Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled Mandarin; evoking the poignant nostalgia of Howard Johnson’s, the beloved roadside chain that foreshadowed the pandemic of McDonald’s; or chronicling the convivial lunchtime crowd at Schrafft’s, the first dining establishment to cater to women’s tastes, Freedman uses each restaurant to reveal a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. “As much about the contradictions and contrasts in this country as it is about its places to eat” (The New Yorker), Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a “must-read” (Eater) that proves “essential for anyone who cares about where they go to dinner” (Wall Street Journal Magazine).
Combining an historian's rigor with a food enthusiast's palate, Paul Freedman's seminal and highly entertaining Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco's fabled Mandarin; evoking the poignant nostalgia of Howard Johnson's, the beloved roadside chain that foreshadowed the pandemic of McDonald's; or chronicling the convivial lunchtime crowd at Schrafft's, the first dining establishment to cater to women's tastes, Freedman uses each restaurant to reveal a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. "As much about the contradictions and contrasts in this country as it is about its places to eat" (The New Yorker), Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a "must-read" (Eater) that proves "essential for anyone who cares about where they go to dinner" (Wall Street Journal Magazine).
With an ambitious sweep over two hundred years, Paul Freedman’s lavishly illustrated history shows that there actually is an American cuisine. For centuries, skeptical foreigners—and even millions of Americans—have believed there was no such thing as American cuisine. In recent decades, hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza have been thought to define the nation’s palate. Not so, says food historian Paul Freedman, who demonstrates that there is an exuberant and diverse, if not always coherent, American cuisine that reflects the history of the nation itself. Combining historical rigor and culinary passion, Freedman underscores three recurrent themes—regionality, standardization, and variety—that shape a completely novel history of the United States. From the colonial period until after the Civil War, there was a patchwork of regional cooking styles that produced local standouts, such as gumbo from southern Louisiana, or clam chowder from New England. Later, this kind of regional identity was manipulated for historical effect, as in Southern cookbooks that mythologized gracious “plantation hospitality,” rendering invisible the African Americans who originated much of the region’s food. As the industrial revolution produced rapid changes in every sphere of life, the American palate dramatically shifted from local to processed. A new urban class clamored for convenient, modern meals and the freshness of regional cuisine disappeared, replaced by packaged and standardized products—such as canned peas, baloney, sliced white bread, and jarred baby food. By the early twentieth century, the era of homogenized American food was in full swing. Bolstered by nutrition “experts,” marketing consultants, and advertising executives, food companies convinced consumers that industrial food tasted fine and, more importantly, was convenient and nutritious. No group was more susceptible to the blandishments of advertisers than women, who were made feel that their husbands might stray if not satisfied with the meals provided at home. On the other hand, men wanted women to be svelte, sporty companions, not kitchen drudges. The solution companies offered was time-saving recipes using modern processed helpers. Men supposedly liked hearty food, while women were portrayed as fond of fussy, “dainty,” colorful, but tasteless dishes—tuna salad sandwiches, multicolored Jell-O, or artificial crab toppings. The 1970s saw the zenith of processed-food hegemony, but also the beginning of a food revolution in California. What became known as New American cuisine rejected the blandness of standardized food in favor of the actual taste and pleasure that seasonal, locally grown products provided. The result was a farm-to-table trend that continues to dominate. “A book to be savored” (Stephen Aron), American Cuisine is also a repository of anecdotes that will delight food lovers: how dry cereal was created by William Kellogg for people with digestive and low-energy problems; that chicken Parmesan, the beloved Italian favorite, is actually an American invention; and that Florida Key lime pie goes back only to the 1940s and was based on a recipe developed by Borden’s condensed milk. More emphatically, Freedman shows that American cuisine would be nowhere without the constant influx of immigrants, who have popularized everything from tacos to sushi rolls. “Impeccably researched, intellectually satisfying, and hugely readable” (Simon Majumdar), American Cuisine is a landmark work that sheds astonishing light on a history most of us thought we never had.
A global history of restaurants beyond white tablecloths and maître d’s, Dining Out presents restaurants both as businesses and as venues for a range of human experiences. From banquets in twelfth-century China to the medicinal roots of French restaurants, the origins of restaurants are not singular—nor is the history this book tells. Katie Rawson and Elliott Shore highlight stories across time and place, including how chifa restaurants emerged from the migration of Chinese workers and their marriage to Peruvian businesswomen in nineteenth-century Peru; how Alexander Soyer transformed kitchen chemistry by popularizing the gas stove, pre-dating the pyrotechnics of molecular gastronomy by a century; and how Harvey Girls dispelled the ill repute of waiting tables, making rich lives for themselves across the American West. From restaurant architecture to technological developments, staffing and organization, tipping and waiting table, ethnic cuisines, and slow and fast foods, this delectably illustrated and profoundly informed and entertaining history takes us from the world’s first restaurants in Kaifeng, China, to the latest high-end dining experiences.
This richly illustrated book applies the discoveries of the new generation of food historians to the pleasures of dining and the culinary accomplishments of diverse civilizations, past and present. Freedman gathers essays by French, German, Belgian, American, and British historians to present a comprehensive, chronological history of taste.
Explores the evolution of gourmet restaurant style in recent decades, which has led to an increasing informality in restaurant design, and examines what these changes say about current attitudes toward taste.
The remarkable story of a restaurant on top of the world—built by a legend, destroyed in tragedy—and an era in New York City it helped to frame In the 1970s, New York City was plagued by crime, filth, and an ineffective government. The city was falling apart, and even the newly constructed World Trade Center threatened to be a fiasco. But in April 1976, a quarter-mile up on the 107th floor of the North Tower, a new restaurant called Windows on the World opened its doors—a glittering sign that New York wasn’t done just yet. In The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World, journalist Tom Roston tells the complete history of this incredible restaurant, from its stunning $14-million opening to 9/11 and its tragic end. There are stories of the people behind it, such as Joe Baum, the celebrated restaurateur, who was said to be the only man who could outspend an unlimited budget; the well-tipped waiters; and the cavalcade of famous guests, as well as everyday people celebrating the key moments in their lives. Roston also charts the changes in American food, from baroque and theatrical to locally sourced and organic. Built on nearly 150 original interviews, The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World is the story of New York City’s restaurant culture and the quintessential American drive to succeed.
An entertaining seat at the table of ten power meals that shaped history—including the menus and recreated recipes! Some of the most consequential decisions in history were decided at the dinner table, accompanied—and perhaps influenced—by copious amounts of food and drink. This fascinating book explores ten of those pivotal meals, presenting the contexts, key participants, table talk, and outcomes of each. It offers unique insight into the minds and appetites of some of history’s most famous and notorious characters, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Richard Nixon. Feasting on leg of lamb, Bonnie Prince Charlie doomed the Jacobite Army at Culloden. A uniquely American menu served with French wine lubricated the conversation between rivals Jefferson and Hamilton that led to the founding of the US financial system and the location of the nation’s capital in Washington. After schweinwürst and sauerkraut with Adolf Hitler at his Berghof residence, Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg agreed to the complete integration of Austria into the Third Reich. Celebrity chef Tony Singh has researched the menus and recipes for all ten dinners down to the last detail and recreates them here. The book contains fifty-five recipes from soup to desert and lists the spirits as well.
The iconic restaurant chain that defined Americana by introducing twenty-eight flavors of ice cream, “tendersweet” clam strips, grilled “frankforts,” and more. Popularly known as the “Father of the Franchise Industry,” Howard Johnson delivered good food and fair prices—a winning combination that brought appreciative customers back for more. The attractive white Colonial Revival restaurants, with eye-catching porcelain tile roofs, illuminated cupolas, and sea blue shutters, were described in Reader’s Digest in 1949 as the epitome of “eating places that look like New England town meeting houses dressed up for Sunday.” Learn how Johnson created an orange-roofed empire of ice cream stands and restaurants that stretched from Maine to Florida . . . then all the way across the country.
The medieval clergy, aristocracy, and commercial classes tended to regard peasants as objects of contempt and derision. In religious writings, satires, sermons, chronicles, and artistic representations peasants often appeared as dirty, foolish, dishonest, even as subhuman or bestial. Their lowliness was commonly regarded as a natural corollary of the drudgery of their agricultural toil. Yet, at the same time, the peasantry was not viewed as “other” in the manner of other condemned groups, such as Jews, lepers, Muslims, or the imagined “monstrous races” of the East. Several crucial characteristics of the peasantry rendered it less clearly alien from the elite perspective: peasants were not a minority, their work in the fields nourished all other social orders, and, most important, they were Christians. In other respects, peasants could be regarded as meritorious by virtue of their simple life, productive work, and unjust suffering at the hands of their exploitive social superiors. Their unrewarded sacrifice and piety were also sometimes thought to place them closest to God and more likely to win salvation. This book examines these conflicting images of peasants from the post-Carolingian period to the German Peasants’ War. It relates the representation of peasants to debates about how society should be organized (specifically, to how human equality at Creation led to subordination), how slavery and serfdom could be assailed or defended, and how peasants themselves structured and justified their demands. Though it was argued that peasants were legitimately subjugated by reason of nature or some primordial curse (such as that of Noah against his son Ham), there was also considerable unease about how the exploitation of those who were not completely alien—who were, after all, Christians—could be explained. Laments over peasant suffering as expressed in the literature might have a stylized quality, but this book shows how they were appropriated and shaped by peasants themselves, especially in the large-scale rebellions that characterized the late Middle Ages.