Leona Rittner, W. Scott Haine, and Jeffrey H. Jackson, eds.The Thinking Space: The Café as a Cultural Institution in Paris, Italy and Vienna

March 27, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Believe it or not, the origins of this podcast and the entire New Books Network can be traced to a conversation I had in a café in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Sweetwaters in Kerrytown, as it happens) in 2004. I was sitting there minding my own business when I overheard Ed Vielmetti and Lou […]

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Allen SalkinFrom Scratch: Inside the Food Network

October 5, 2013

When I was growing up the only cooking show on TV I remember was Julia Child. I sometimes watched "The French Chef," not so much to learn anything about cooking, but rather just to watch Julia. She was a hoot. When I saw the famous "Saturday Night Live" in 1978, I wasn't sure which was […]

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Aaron Bobrow-StrainWhite Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf

June 14, 2013

When we think of the stuff that dreams are made on, we might think of the spirits that Shakespeare’s Prospero conjures up in "The Tempest"; we might think of stars, rainbows, maybe even wishing wells, but what probably doesn’t leap to mind is a loaf of Wonder Bread. And yet, ever since the invention of […]

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Marlene ZukPaleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

April 22, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Big Ideas] The Hebrews called it "Eden." The Greeks and Romans called it the "Golden Age." The philosophes–or Rousseau at least–called it the "State of Nature." Marx and Engels called it "Primitive Communism." The underlying notion, however, is the same: there was a time, long ago, when things were much better […]

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Kara NewmanThe Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets

January 29, 2013

Chocolate fans out there may know all about the latest chocolate happenings, from Hershey’s "Air Delight," a bar of aerated milk chocolate, to Cadbury’s new melt-resistant chocolate, which apparently remains solid even after three hours at 104 degrees. But unless you happen to be a chocoholic who follows the financial news, you may not have […]

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Barak KushnerSlurp!: A Social and Culinary History of Ramen – Japan’s Favorite Noodle Soup

December 20, 2012

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] I bet you’ve never heard of the “Smash the Baltic Fleet Memorial Togo Marshmallow.” I hadn’t either, before reading Barak Kushner’s lively and illuminating new book on the history of ramen in Japan. Grounded in ample research that incorporates archival and ethnographic methods, Slurp!: A Social and Culinary History of […]

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Signe RousseauFood and Social Media: You Are What You Tweet

December 13, 2012

The other day I found myself in a cooking situation that’s fairly common: I had a few odd ingredients—some oxidized strips of bacon, a withered red pepper, a bunch of half-wilted parsley—and needed to use them before they went bad, but how?  The cookbooks on my counter didn’t have an index in which I could […]

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William KerriganJohnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History

November 18, 2012

Not many of us, not even the most ardent foodies, think of the crab apple as a fruit worth eating, much less extolling, but Henry David Thoreau saw something like the American pioneer spirit in this hard, gnarled, sour hunk of fruit.  In his essay “Wild Apples,” he celebrates the apple because it “emulates man's independence […]

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Bob SpitzDearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

November 14, 2012

[Cross-posted from New Books in Biography] I confess I knew nothing about Julia Child prior to reading Bob Spitz's new book. And yet, from the dramatic opening passages through its 500+ pages, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child (Knopf, 2012) held me captive. How many people, much less women, change our attitudes, beliefs, and culture? Julia […]

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John S. AllenThe Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship to Food

October 23, 2012

Did Proust have it right?  Does food, whether it’s a madeleine from an aristocratic childhood or the Velveeta mac-and-cheese my mom used to make, have a special significance for our memory, perhaps even our very being? In his new book, The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship to Food (Harvard University Press, 2012), neuroanthropologist John. S. […]

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