We’ve all been cooking so much… it’s time for some fascinating food history!
Join our next meeting on Zoom:
Tuesday, June 30 at 12:30
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
by Sarah Lohman
“A unique and surprising view of American history… richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written.”
– The Atlantic
“Very cool…a breezy American culinary history that you didn’t know you wanted” (Bon Appetit) Eight Flavors reveals 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 that makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In “a unique and surprising view of American history…richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written” (The Atlantic), Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.
She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens-then she asks why.
“A fresh, original perspective to American culinary history” (The Christian Science Monitor), Eight Flavors takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future. We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations, and Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat-which “may make you hungry” (Bustle).
Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. She focuses on the history of food as a way to access the stories of diverse Americans.
Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as on All Things Considered; and she has presented across the country, from the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC to The Culinary Historians of Southern California.
Her current project, Endangered Eating: Exploring America’s Vanishing Cuisine will be released with W.W. Norton & Co. in 2021.
Suggested contribution $10.00
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