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Profiles from the Kitchen Cover

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Profiles from the Kitchen

What Great Cooks Have Taught Us about Ourselves and Our Food

Charles Baker-Clark

In an age where convenience often ranks above quality, many Americans have abandoned traditional recipes and methods of cooking for fast solutions to their hunger and nourishment needs. Modern families are busier than ever, juggling hectic schedules that send them to fast-food restaurant drive-through windows and to grocery stores crowded with pre-processed and ready-to-eat foods. With parents frequently working during the daytime, efficient food preparation in the evenings has become the number one priority in kitchens across the country. This trend began during the post–World War II years, which heralded the arrival of “fast foods” and innovative technological advancements that sought to simplify the cooking process. These products were marketed as quick and convenient alternatives that transformed the concept of cooking from a cultural activity and a means of bonding with one’s family to a chore that should occupy as little time and energy as possible. Profiles from the Kitchen: What Great Cooks Have Taught Us about Ourselves and Our Food is Charles A. Baker-Clark’s call to abandon the “homogenization of food and dining experiences” by encouraging us to reclaim knowledge of cooking and eating and reconnect with our ethnic, familial, and regional backgrounds. Baker-Clark profiles fifteen individuals who have shaped our experiences with food and who have gone beyond popular trends to promote cooking as a craft worth learning and sustaining. The cooks and food critics he writes about emphasize the appreciation of good cooking and the relationship of food to social justice, spirituality, and sustainability. Profiles from the Kitchen highlights prominent figures within the food industry, from nationally and internationally known individuals such as Paul and Julia Child, James Beard, and M.F.K. Fisher to regional food experts such as John T. Edge and Dennis Getto. The result is a collective portrait of foodlovers who celebrate the rich traditions and histories associated with food in our daily lives and who encourage us to reestablish our own connections in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Cover

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Pumpkin

The Curious History of an American Icon

by Cindy Ott

The Queen of Fats Cover

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The Queen of Fats

Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them

Susan Allport

A nutritional whodunit that takes readers from Greenland to Africa to Israel, The Queen of Fats gives a fascinating account of how we have become deficient in a nutrient that is essential for good health: the fatty acids known as omega-3s. Writing with intelligence and passion, Susan Allport tells the story of these vital fats, which are abundant in greens and fish, among other foods. She describes how scientists came to understand the role of omega-3s in our diet, why commercial processing has removed them from the food we eat, and what the tremendous consequences have been for our health. In many Western countries, epidemics of inflammatory diseases and metabolic disorders have been traced to omega-3 deficiencies. The Queen of Fats provides information for every consumer who wants to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and obesity and to improve brain function and overall health. This important and compelling investigation into the discovery, science, and politics of omega-3s will transform our thinking about what we should be eating.

* Includes steps you can take to add omega-3s to your diet

* Shows why eating fish is not the only way, or even the best way, to increase omega-3s.

* Provides a new way to understand the complex advice about the role and importance of fats in the body

* Explains how and why the food industry has created a deadly imbalance of fats in our foods

* Shows how omega-3s can be reintroduced to our diet through food enrichment and changes in the feeding of livestock

Reaping a Greater Harvest Cover

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Reaping a Greater Harvest

African Americans, the Extension Service, and Rural Reform in Jim Crow Texas

By Debra A. Reid Ph.D

Jim Crow laws pervaded the south, reaching from the famous "separate yet equal" facilities to voting discrimination to the seats on buses. Agriculture, a key industry for those southern blacks trying to forge an independent existence, was not immune to the touch of racism, prejudice, and inequality. In Reaping a Greater Harvest, Debra Reid deftly spotlights the hierarchies of race, class, and gender within the extension service. Black farmers were excluded from cooperative demonstration work in Texas until the Smith-Lever Agricultural Extension act in 1914. However, the resulting Negro Division included a complicated bureaucracy of African American agents who reported to white officials, were supervised by black administrators, and served black farmers. The now-measurable successes of these African American farmers exacerbated racial tensions and led to pressure on agents to maintain the status quo. The bureau that was meant to ensure equality instead became another tool for systematic discrimination and maintenance of the white-dominated southern landscape. Historians of race, gender, and class have joined agricultural historians in roundly praising Reid's work.

Red, White, and Black Make Blue Cover

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Red, White, and Black Make Blue

Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life

Andrea Feeser

Like cotton, indigo has defied its humble origins. Left alone it might have been a regional plant with minimal reach, a localized way of dyeing textiles, paper, and other goods with a bit of blue. But when blue became the most popular color for the textiles that Britain turned out in large quantities in the eighteenth century, the South Carolina indigo that colored most of this cloth became a major component in transatlantic commodity chains. In Red, White, and Black Make Blue, Andrea Feeser tells the stories of all the peoples who made indigo a key part of the colonial South Carolina experience as she explores indigo’s relationships to land use, slave labor, textile production and use, sartorial expression, and fortune building.

In the eighteenth century, indigo played a central role in the development of South Carolina. The popularity of the color blue among the upper and lower classes ensured a high demand for indigo, and the climate in the region proved sound for its cultivation. Cheap labor by slaves—both black and Native American—made commoditization of indigo possible. And due to land grabs by colonists from the enslaved or expelled indigenous peoples, the expansion into the backcountry made plenty of land available on which to cultivate the crop. Feeser recounts specific histories—uncovered for the first time during her research—of how the Native Americans and African slaves made the success of indigo in South Carolina possible. She also emphasizes the material culture around particular objects, including maps, prints, paintings, and clothing. Red, White, and Black Make Blue is a fraught and compelling history of both exploitation and empowerment, revealing the legacy of a modest plant with an outsized impact.

Rice Talks Cover

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Rice Talks

Food and Community in a Vietnamese Town

Nir Avieli

Rice Talks explores the importance of cooking and eating in the everyday social life of Hoi An, a properous market town in central Vietnam known for its exceptionally elaborate and sophisticated local cuisine. In a vivid and highly personal account, Nir Avieli takes the reader from the private setting of the extended family meal into the public realm of the festive, extraordinary, and unique. He shows how foodways relate to class relations, gender roles, religious practices, cosmology, ethnicity, and even local and national politics. This evocative study departs from conventional anthropological research on food by stressing the rich meanings, generative capacities, and potential subversion embedded in foodways and eating.

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Seasons of Plenty

Amana Communal Cooking

Emilie Hoppe

Seasons of Plenty provides colorful descriptions, folk stories, appealing photgraphs and illustrations, excerpts from journals and ledgers, recipes for good food like savory dumpling soup, mashed potatoes with browned bread crumbs, Sauerbraten, and feather light apple fritters.

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Spirits of Just Men

Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World

Charles D. Thompson Jr.

Spirits of Just Men tells the story of moonshine in 1930s America, as seen through the remarkable location of Franklin County, Virginia, a place that many still refer to as the "moonshine capital of the world." Local characters come alive through this richly colorful chronicle of the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, which made national news and exposed the far-reaching and pervasive tendrils of Appalachia's local moonshine economy. Charles D. Thompson Jr., whose ancestors were involved in the area's moonshine trade and trial as well as local law enforcement, uses the event as a stepping-off point to explore Blue Ridge Mountain culture, economy, and political engagement in the 1930s. Drawing from extensive oral histories and local archival material, Thompson's sensitive analysis examines the people and processes involved in turning a basic agricultural commodity into such a sought-after and essentially American spirit.

Stirring the Pot Cover

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Stirring the Pot

A History of African Cuisine

James C. McCann

Africa’s art of cooking is a key part of its history. All too often Africa is associated with famine, but in Stirring the Pot, James C. McCann describes how the ingredients, the practices, and the varied tastes of African cuisine comprise a body of historically gendered knowledge practiced and perfected in households across Africa's diverse human and ecological landscape. McCann
reveals how Africa’s tastes and culinary practices are integral to the understanding of African history and more generally to the new literature on food as social history.

Stirring the Pot offers a chronology of African cuisine beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing from Africa's original edible endowments to its globalization. McCann traces African cooks’ use of new crops, spices, and tastes, including New World imports like maize, hot peppers, cassava, potatoes, tomatoes, and peanuts, as well as plantain, sugarcane, spices, Asian rice, and other ingredients from the Indian Ocean world. He analyzes recipes, not as fixed ahistorical documents, but as lively and living records of historical change in women’s knowledge and farmers’ experiments. A final chapter describes in sensuous detail the direct connections of African cooking to New Orleans jambalaya, Cuban rice and beans, and the cooking of Americans’ “soul food.”

Stirring the Pot breaks new ground and makes clear the relationship between food and the culture, history, and national identity
of Africans.

Tasting the Good Life Cover

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Tasting the Good Life

Wine Tourism in the Napa Valley

George Gmelch and Sharon Bohn Gmelch

Five million visitors a year travel to California's Napa Valley to experience the good life: to taste fine wines, eat fine food, and immerse themselves in other sophisticated pleasures while surrounded by bucolic beauty. Tourism is the world's largest employer, and tourists today want to experience the world through all five senses. Tasting the Good Life tells the story of Napa tourism through the words of the tourists who visit and the men and women who provide the products and services they rely on. The stories of 17 people -- from winemaker to vineyard manager, from celebrity chef to wait staff, from hot air balloonist to masseuse -- provide extraordinary insight into this new form of tourism and its impact on an iconic American place.

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