05 October 2019

Weekend Cooking: American Food by Rachel Wharton and Kimberly Ellen Hall

Review of American Food by Rachel Wharton with illustrations by Kimberly Ellen HallI love reading about food history and changing culinary trends through the generations. I especially love a food history book that lightens the mood and makes me smile or laugh.

Enter American Food by Rachel Wharton with illustrations by Kimberly Ellen Hall. This fun, colorful, and informative A to Z "Not-So-Serious History" (Abrams Image, Oct. 8), hits all my buttons. Take a generous measure of history, stir in some humor, sprinkle with color, and add a dash of playfulness and you've got the gist of American Food.

I even like how the book came to be. Here's how Wharton and Hall describe it:

[We] chose our subjects at random, more or less--picking one well-known American food item for every letter in the alphabet. We had guessed that almost any food eaten in this country would have a multilayered history, some forgotten twists and turns. Thankfully we were right. (p. 6)
I've scanned the contents page so you can see all 26 topics, but note that some chapters veer off into other areas. For example, in the blueberry chapter we learn about their surprising connection to cranberries. Under redeye gravy, the authors mention Andrew Jackson. And, of course, what's a discussion about Orange Julius without a trip to the mall?

Review of American Food by Rachel Wharton with illustrations by Kimberly Ellen Hall

REview of American Food by Rachel Wharton with illustrations by Kimberly Ellen HallThe most controversial chapter in the BFR household is the one about the Italian sandwich (hoagie, sub, hero, zep). Philadelphia gets a lot of page time, and that just fueled the flames for my Philadelphia-area-native husband to wax on (and on and on) about how Philly is *the* home of the Italian sandwich (by whatever name you choose). Oh, and only Philadelphians know how to make one. Sigh.

Other standouts in American Food--because of interest, nostalgia, or fun--are the chapters on Monterey Jack cheese, upside-down cakes, Mexican chiles, and zucchini breads. One of the donut illustrations made me laugh (read the entire caption under the drawing; you may have to click to enlarge), and the lunchbox drawings and text took me back to childhood. Remember the days before bento boxes?

Review of American Food by Rachel Wharton with illustrations by Kimberly Ellen HallWharton and Hall don't forget that most people interested in the history of American food are also interested in cooking. Get ready to make your own ketchup, green goddess dressing, shrimp and gravy, and vinegar pie. Don't turn your nose up at that last recipe. One of the other Abrams Dinner Party members said the dessert was really good. I plan to try it soon.

Recommendation: So who would like Rachel Wharton and Kimberly Ellen Hall's American Food? You would! I think anyone with an interest in food would find something to love. If nothing else, Wharton and Hall will take you back to your youth or help you understand your grandmother's obsession with Jell-O. Finally, if you're looking for a fun hostess gift, stocking stuffer, or birthday present, look no further; American Food is a crowd pleaser.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Abrams Books and the Abrams Dinner Party for the review copy. My thoughts are my own.
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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.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.
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13 comments:

judee 10/5/19, 6:47 AM  

Beth,
It sounds like an interesting book with lots of fun nostalgia. I love books with lots of illustrations like this one. I am frequently looking for a hostess gift when we eat at someone's house. This book sounds perfect.Thank you for the review-

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/5/19, 7:33 AM  

This looks like a wonderful unique gift for the cook on your holiday gift list.

jama 10/5/19, 7:45 AM  

OH, this one looks so good! You had me at the cover. :)

Tina 10/5/19, 8:09 AM  

Loving the graphics; this looks like a cookbook to peruse & learn at the same time. You inspired me with the graphics in your Mediterranean cookbook a few weeks ago.

rhapsodyinbooks 10/5/19, 8:10 AM  

I also love books about food history and culinary trends. And LOL re people from Philadelphia and food - so true!!! (my dad was from Philadelphia, and was the same!)

bermudaonion 10/5/19, 8:12 AM  

Just from looking at the table of contents, I can tell this is told with some humor. It looks and sounds terrific!

Jackie McGuinness 10/5/19, 9:04 AM  

This book sounds like fun. Lunch boxes don't bring back good memories!
You reminded me of the Jello museum.
There is nothing like a Phillie cheese sub! I agree the best I had were in Philadelphia.

Vicki 10/5/19, 9:09 AM  

I like the graphics and that it is humorous.

Nancy Andres at Colors 4 Health 10/5/19, 10:33 AM  

Thanks Beth for hosting. The book you review sounds interesting. I love to know about the history of foods and will check this one out. At the party with a mushroom recipe roundup. Enjoy!

Deb in Hawaii 10/5/19, 12:21 PM  

I am loving the illustrations in this one. I want to try the vinegar pie too. ;-) am having an insane few weeks at work but getting on track and will link up my Cider Revival post this weekend too.

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours 10/5/19, 2:07 PM  

Looks like a great book, thanks for sharing

Melissa 10/6/19, 5:55 PM  

Your husband is correct. There's nothing like a Philadelphia hoagie, preferably from Wawa or a good neighborhood deli. I miss them something fierce (because of geography, not eating meat, and being gluten free). Jersey Mike's is a good substitute and they're close enough to Philly. ;)

Heidenkind 10/8/19, 10:53 PM  

Lol on the hubby. Philadelphians, what can you do? ;)

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