31 October 2015

Weekend Cooking: The American Plate by Libby H. O'Connell

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

The American Plate by Libby H. O'ConnellYou might know Libby O'Connell's name from the History Channel or A&E, where she's one the networks' historians, educators, and documentary film producers. You might not know her as a food historian, but perhaps you should.

In The American Plate, now out in paperback, O'Connell chronicles the history of America through the perspective of food and drink. She talks about not only native Western Hemisphere edible plants (squash, corn, beans) but also foods developed, produced, and relished by Americans over the centuries (rum, barbecue, hot dogs).

The text is divided into 103 "bites," or short sections, each focusing on a single food or drink item. O'Connell follows no set formula, so you never know what you'll learn as read about the food trends of America, from pre-contact times to the present. Fun facts, vintage photos, recipes, and/or drawings accompany the brief histories. O'Connell's style is informal, and she highlights interesting tidbits and fascinating details associated with each bite.

This isn't the kind of book you need to read cover to cover. Instead, you might want to flip through, stopping at whatever catches your attention: baked Alaska, beaver tail, Brunswick stew, Election Day cake, war rations, frozen foods, or microwave popcorn. The American Plate provides hours of entertainment and dozens of vintage and classic recipes.

Here are a few things I learned:
  • John Rolfe (Pocahontas's husband) was the first colonist to plant tobacco as a cash crop.
  • Sassafras was once the second-largest export because it was thought to cure syphilis.
  • The word barbecue is likely derived from barbacoa, the terms for a Caribbean dish consisting of spicy meat, slow roasted over coals.
  • Coffee consumption surpassed tea after the Civil War because Federal troops were issued coffee as part of their rations. After the war, few veterans went back to tea.
  • The Hershey Kiss was first sold in 1907; the paper ribbon was added in 1912.
Add Libby H. O'Connell's The American Plate to your wish list. Better yet, add it to this year's holiday list. The book is a great gift for foodies, trivia lovers, and history buffs. Pick up an extra copy or two -- The American Plate would be a terrific thank-you gift if you travel for the holidays or go to a friend's or relative's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Published by Sourcebooks, 2015 (paperback edition)
ISBN-13: 9781492609865
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Tina 10/31/15, 6:39 AM  

I have not heard of Libby O'Connell but it sounds like a fun and informative book!

rhapsodyinbooks 10/31/15, 6:39 AM  

I loved this book - I thought it had great history lessons as well as food info!

JoAnn 10/31/15, 6:43 AM  

This book is already on my wish list. Maybe since it's out in paperback now, I'll treat myself!

jama 10/31/15, 7:21 AM  

Definitely adding this one to my Wish List. I'd heard of it, but forgot about it, so I'm glad you featured it today. Thanks!

rhonda 10/31/15, 9:34 AM  

This is one of the books I will be giving to special friends this holiday season,

Katherine P 10/31/15, 10:08 AM  

I had an eARC of this one and loved it and really wanted to get a copy of it in print but then I got distracted by new books. Thanks for the reminder! It was an absolutely fascinating book and I'm glad to hear it's in paperback now.

Esme 10/31/15, 11:29 AM  

This sounds like a very interesting book full of facts. It is always fun to learn the entire story.

Vicki 10/31/15, 12:00 PM  

Sounds like an interesting book. I think I'd skip over the beaver tail.

Create With Joy 10/31/15, 2:15 PM  

This sounds like an interesting book Beth - thanks for sharing and hosting your hop!
Have a lovely weekend - we're live at Friendship Friday if you'd like to join us! :-)

bermudaonion 10/31/15, 10:00 PM  

I love learning facts like that - this sounds fascinating!

Sharon Wagner 11/1/15, 9:53 AM  

I do love barbacoa. Even better than barbeque.

Laurie C 11/1/15, 10:13 AM  

I think this would definitely make a great gift book!

Margot 11/1/15, 10:32 PM  

This sounds delightful. I like the mix of history and recipes and tips.

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