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Dinner Roles

American Women and Culinary Culture

Who cooks dinner in American homes? It's no surprise that “Mom” remains the overwhelming answer. Cooking and all it entails, from grocery shopping to chopping vegetables to clearing the table, is to this day primarily a woman's responsibility. How this relationship between women and food developed through the twentieth century and why it has endured are the questions Sherrie Inness seeks to answer in Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture.

By exploring a wide range of popular media from the first half of the twentieth century, including cookbooks, women's magazines, and advertisements, Dinner Roles sheds light on the network of sources that helped perpetuate the notion that cooking is women's work. Cookbooks and advertisements provided valuable information about the ideals that American society upheld. A woman who could prepare the perfect Jell-O mold, whip up a cake with her new electric mixer, and still maintain a spotless kitchen and a sunny disposition was the envy of other housewives across the nation.

Inness begins her exploration not with women but with men-those individuals often missing from the kitchen who were taught their own set of culinary values. She continues with the study of juvenile cookbooks, which provided children with their first cooking lessons. Chapters on the rise of electronic appliances, ethnic foods, and the 1950s housewife all add to our greater understanding of women's evolving roles in American culinary culture.

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Dirt, Sweat, and Diesel

A Family Farm in the Twenty-first Century

Steven L. Hilty

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Divided Spirits

Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production

Sarah Bowen

Divided Spirits tells the stories of tequila and mezcal, two of Mexico’s most iconic products. In doing so, the book illustrates how neoliberalism influences the production, branding, and regulation of local foods and drinks. It also challenges the strategy of relying on “alternative” markets to protect food cultures and rural livelihoods.

In recent years, as consumers increasingly demand to connect with the people and places that produce their food, the concept of terroir—the taste of place—has become more and more prominent. Tequila and mezcal are both protected by denominations of origin (DOs), legal designations that aim to guarantee a product’s authenticity based on its link to terroir. Advocates argue that the DOs expand market opportunities, protect cultural heritage, and ensure the reputation of Mexico’s national spirits. Yet this book shows how the institutions that are supposed to guard “the legacy of all Mexicans” often fail those who are most in need of protection: the small producers, agave farmers, and other workers who have been making tequila and mezcal for generations. The consequences—for the quality and taste of tequila and mezcal, and for communities throughout Mexico—are stark.

Divided Spirits suggests that we must move beyond market-based models if we want to safeguard local products and the people who make them. Instead, we need systems of production, consumption, and oversight that are more democratic, more inclusive, and more participatory. Lasting change is unlikely without the involvement of the state and a sustained commitment to addressing inequality and supporting rural development.

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Duncan Hines

How a Traveling Salesman Became the Most Trusted Name in Food

Louis Hatchett. foreword by Michael and Jane Stern

Duncan Hines (1880--1959) may be best known for the cake mixes, baked goods, and bread products that bear his name, but most people forget that he was a real person and not just a fictitious figure invented for the brand. America's pioneer restaurant critic, Hines discovered his passion while working as a traveling salesman during the 1920s and 1930s -- a time when food standards were poorly enforced and safety was a constant concern. He traveled across America discovering restaurants and offering his recommendations to readers in his best-selling compilation Adventures in Good Eating (1935). The success of this work and of his subsequent publications led Hines to manufacture the extremely popular food products that we still enjoy today.

In Duncan Hines, author Louis Hatchett explores the story of the man, from his humble beginnings in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to his lucrative licensing deal with Proctor & Gamble. Following the successful debut of his restaurant guide, Hines published his first cookbook, Adventures in Good Cooking (1939), at the age of 59 and followed it with The Dessert Book (1955). These culinary classics included recipes from many of the establishments he visited on his travels, favorites handed down through his family for generations, and new dishes that contained unusual ingredients for the era. Many of the recipes served as inspiration for mixes that eventually became available under the Duncan Hines brand.

This authoritative biography is a comprehensive account of the life and legacy of a savvy businessman, American icon, and an often-overlooked culinary pioneer whose love of good food led to his name becoming a grocery shelf favorite. Hatchett offers insightful commentary into the man behind the cake mix boxes and how he paved the way for many others like him.

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Dutch Ovens Chronicled

Their Use in the United States

When a significant number of Americans had to prepare meals in the out of doors—colonists, pioneers moving west, cowboys working the range, or sheep herders—they needed something portable to cook their food in. Iron casters filled that need by turning out various pots, pans, and ovens to be carried to cabins, campfires, wagon trains, and camping trails. One such vessel was the Dutch oven, which had been in use for generations.

Dutch Ovens Chronicled offers a history of the development, care, and use of these ovens, complete with photos and recipes. This authoritative, informative, and eminently readable guide will be appreciated by outdoor enthusiasts, antiquarians, and history buffs alike.

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Dying on the Vine

How Phylloxera Transformed Wine

George D. Gale Jr.

Dying on the Vine chronicles 150 years of scientific warfare against the grapevine’s worst enemy: phylloxera. In a book that is highly relevant for the wine industry today, George Gale describes the biological and economic disaster that unfolded when a tiny, root-sucking insect invaded the south of France in the 1860s, spread throughout Europe, and journeyed across oceans to Africa, South America, Australia, and California—laying waste to vineyards wherever it landed. He tells how scientists, viticulturalists, researchers, and others came together to save the world’s vineyards and, with years of observation and research, developed a strategy of resistance. Among other topics, the book discusses phylloxera as an important case study of how one invasive species can colonize new habitats and examines California’s past and present problems with it.

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Eat Drink Delta

A Hungry Traveler's Journey through the Soul of the South

Susan Puckett

The Mississippi Delta is a complicated and fascinating place. Part travel guide, part cookbook, and part photo essay, Eat Drink Delta by veteran food journalist Susan Puckett (with photographs by Delta resident Langdon Clay) reveals a region shaped by slavery, civil rights, amazing wealth, abject deprivation, the Civil War, a flood of biblical proportions, and—above all—an overarching urge to get down and party with a full table and an open bar.

There’s more to Delta dining than southern standards. Puckett uncovers the stories behind convenience stores where dill pickles marinate in Kool-Aid and diners where tabouli appears on plates with fried chicken. She celebrates the region’s hot tamale makers who follow the time-honored techniques that inspired many a blues lyric. And she introduces us to a new crop of Delta chefs who brine chicken in sweet tea and top stone-ground Mississippi grits with local pond-raised prawns and tomato confit. The guide also provides a taste of events such as Belzoni’s World Catfish Festival and Tunica’s Wild Game Cook-Off and offers dozens of tested recipes, including the Memphis barbecue pizza beloved by Elvis and a lemon ice-box pie inspired by Tennessee Williams.

To William Faulkner’s suggestion, “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi,” Susan Puckett adds this advice: Go to the Delta with an open mind and an empty stomach. Make your way southward in a journey measured in meals, not miles.

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Eating as I Go

Scenes from America and Abroad

Doris Friedensohn

What do we learn from eating? About ourselves? Others? In this unique memoir of a life shaped by the pleasures of the table, Doris Friedensohn uses eating as an occasion for inquiry. Munching on quesadillas and kimchi in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood, she reflects on her exploration of food over fifty years and across four continents. Relishing couscous in Tunisia and khachapuri in the Republic of Georgia, she explores the ways strangers come together and maintain their differences through food. As a young woman, Friedensohn was determined not to be a provincial American. Chinese, French, Mexican, and Mediterranean cuisines beckoned to her like mysterious suitors. She responded, pursuing suckling pig, snails, baba ghanoush, tripe, jellyfish, and anything with rosemary or cumin. Each rendezvous with an unfamiliar food was a celebration of cosmopolitan living. Friedensohn’s memories range from Thanksgiving at a Middle Eastern restaurant to the taste of fried grasshoppers in Oaxaca. Her wry dramas of the dining room, restaurant, market, and kitchen ripple with tensions—political, religious, psychological, and spiritual. Eating as I Go is one woman’s distinctive mélange of memoir, traveler’s tale, and cultural commentary.

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Eating Her Curries and Kway

A Cultural History of Food in Singapore

Nicole Tarulevicz

While eating is a universal experience, for Singaporeans it carries strong national connotations. The popular Singaporean-English phrase Die die must try is not so much hyperbole as it is a reflection of the lengths that Singaporeans will go to find great dishes. In Eating Her Curries and Kway: A Cultural History of Food in Singapore, Nicole Tarulevicz argues that in a society that has undergone substantial change in a relatively short amount of time, food serves Singaporeans as a poignant connection to the past. Covering the period from British settlement in 1819 to the present and focusing on the post–1965 postcolonial era, Tarulevicz tells the story of Singapore through the production and consumption of food. Analyzing a variety of sources that range from cookbooks to architectural and city plans, Tarulevicz offers a thematic history of this unusual country, which was colonized by the British and operated as a port within Malaya, but which is without a substantial pre-colonial history. Connecting food culture to the larger history of Singapore, she discusses various topics including domesticity and home economics, housing and architecture, advertising, and the regulation of food-related manners and public behavior such as hawking, littering, and chewing gum. Moving away from the predominantly political and economic focus of other histories of Singapore, Tarulevicz provides an important alternative reading of Singaporean society.

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Eating in Eden

Food and American Utopias

Etta M. Madden

Perennially viewed as both a utopian land of abundant resources and a fallen nation of consummate consumers, North America has provided a fertile setting for the development of distinctive foodways reflecting the diverse visions of life in the United States. Immigrants, from colonial English Puritans and Spanish Catholics to mid-twentieth-century European Jews and contemporary Indian Hindus, have generated innovative foodways in creating “new world” religious and ethnic identities. The Shakers, the Oneida Perfectionists, and the Amana Colony, as well as 1970s counter-cultural groups, developed food practices that distinguished communal members from outsiders, but they also marketed their food to nonmembers through festivals, restaurants, and cookbooks. Other groups—from elite male dining clubs in Revolutionary America and female college students in the late 1800s, to members of food co-ops; vegetarian Jews and Buddhists; and “foodies” who watched TV cooking shows—have used food strategically to promote their ideals of gender, social class, nonviolence, environmentalism, or taste in the hope of transforming national or global society.

This theoretically informed, interdisciplinary collection of thirteen essays broadens familiar definitions of utopianism and community to explore the ways Americans have produced, consumed, avoided, and marketed food and food-related products and meanings to further their visionary ideals.

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