IT'S ALL AMERICAN FOOD: The Food We Really Eat, the Dishes We Will Always Love

David Rosengarten, Author . Little, Brown $29.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-05315-0

Rosengarten may have begun his career in gourmet fashion on the Food Network, but here he revels in the recidivist pleasures of "American" food: everything from All-Purpose Bright Red Tomato Sauce to Chinese-Restaurant Spareribs and Philly Cheesesteak. This titanic homage to our nation's wildly varied culinary roots values comfort over refinement, but fortunately comforts are in plentiful supply. Rosengarten can find something to love even in an unreconstructed Shrimp Egg Foo Yung, and harkens back fondly to the 1950s, that much-maligned golden era when immigrant cooking found its way to the American palate. Flavor comes first here—garlic by the half cup; the ringing phrase: "2 pounds lard." There are deep-fry favorites (Calamari, Falafel, Scrapple), long-cooked ones (Boston Baked Beans, Flanken) and classics like Shrimp Cocktail, The Ultimate BLT and, of course, Apple Pie. Every major hyphenated-American cuisine—Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican—has a place, as well as several less-established ones (e.g., Argentinean, Russian). Because of his respect for all traditions, no matter how strangely altered or distanced from their roots, Rosengarten manages to avoid snobbery—both traditional and reverse—altogether. His slightly goofy prose ("Call me Ishmael, but I'm convinced that the great informing influence of New England cuisine is the sea") is a perfect match for this gut-rumbling, mouth-watering, heartfelt tribute. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/18/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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FORMATS
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-316-15920-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-06891-8
Hardcover - 527 pages - 978-0-316-15076-7
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