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A Century of America's Favorite Foods: 10/24/06

A Century of America's Favorite Foods

The recipes included in A Century of America's Favorite Foods are secondary to the history outlined for each decade. These recipes show how eating habits changed over time as a result of socioeconomic, political and technologic forces.

The wiring of homes for electricity brought new tools into the kitchen: the blender, electric mixer and refrigerator to name a few. Food rationing in World War One and Two gave rise to a market of substitution mixes and convenience foods. The parents of the "Baby Boomers" had grown up on cooking with convenience foods and continued to cook that way after the war even though rationing had ended.

Current food choices seem to be divided into two camps: the all convenience or the all from scratch. Both sides seem to be looking for better tasting and healthier foods than were eaten in recent decades. We fall into the from scratch crowd for a variety of reasons.

As the book went through each decade, more and more of the recipes were familiar to me. For the 1960s through the 1980s, I knew every recipe listed and all of them were fairly appalling.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

It was fun a book to read, mostly for the historical tid bits and trivia included in the margins. Many of these "favorites" are ones I know and have eaten at many a family get-together. It was also interesting to see how food substitutes during the two world wars and the Depression (to some degree) helped to create the "convenience food" market and a generation of cooks who were dependent upon those "conveniences." The recipes in the 1950s and 1960s are so bland and homogenous at a time when families could afford greater variety of foods and the markets could have provided them.

Our cooking at home is more in the first third of the book. It's done mostly without "convenience" and without a lot of the electric gadgetry. Why? First of all, it's fun! Second we don't have the counter space or storage space for a lot of gadgetry. Third, I hate a lot of clean up, and frankly those gadgets make clean-up take forever (or so it seems), and finally we just don't have the budget to buy all the latest must haves just to use them once or twice. We do have a blender but honestly I can't think of the last time my husband has used it; I've never used it.

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