American Century Cookbook

Jean Anderson spent 10 years researching the most popular recipes of the 20th century to chronicle how our culinary preferences have changed over the century. The result is the American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century. Jean reached well into cookbooks of the 1800s to find sources of recipes. Did you know that Vichyssoise, the cold potato soup, is an American invention? It was created by the French chef Louis Diat at the New York Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the early 1900s who gave it its name. Not only is the cookbook packed with over 500 recipes, the pages are filled with graphics from old advertisements and details of how various food products companies promoted their products and created new cooking trends.


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I especially enjoyed the section about Knox gelatin and the rise of aspic and Jell-O salads during the middle of the century. Other favorite sections detail the origins of popsicles and eskimo pies.

There are so many things we take for granted now – cheap refrigeration, electric stoves and ovens, year-round availability of a wide variety of meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. These luxuries were simply not available to our grandmothers or great grandmothers a hundred years ago. It’s fascinating to take a walk through time to see how the combination of technical innovation, marketing, food availability, and ingenuity gave rise to our culinary habits and heritage. This book was a great find, and I think you can get it at a bargain price at Amazon.com.