The Golden Age of Cooking

By Schnetzer, Amanda Watson | Policy Review, October-November 1999 | Go to article overview

The Golden Age of Cooking


Schnetzer, Amanda Watson, Policy Review


Cookery is the art of preparing food for the nourishment of the body. Prehistoric man may have lived on uncooked foods, but there are no savage races today who do not practice cookery in some way, however crude. Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery.

- Fannie Merritt Farmer, author of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1896

AMERICANS TODAY, from garden-variety couch potatoes to sophisticated trend setters, have never been more obsessed with food, glorious food. At no other time has America enjoyed as many restaurants, touted as many celebrity chefs, published as many cookbooks and magazines devoted to good food and libations, produced as many cooking programs for television, or had such unlimited access to abundant and cheap food products from the world over. We are sowing, marketing, buying, selling, preparing, and, of course, eating food at unprecedented rates.

The beau monde brand of cooking that is gracing restaurant menus across the country is called "new American cuisine." Its roots reach back to the earliest days of colonial settlement. It has come of age only recently, starting in the finest restaurants in our biggest cities, then spreading out geographically and socially to take root not just in restaurant kitchens but also in home kitchens around the country.

Like our forefathers' and mothers' cookery, new American cuisine is driven by seasonal ingredients purchased from local growers and small distributors. Its purveyors profess a commitment to presenting nature in its purest finery - peppery greens freshly pulled from the soil, fragrant fruits just plucked from the tree, and succulent fish netted in nearby sea or stream. The recipes they create are culled from a vast reservoir of regional and immigrant traditions made possible by the rich American experience. Each dish is meant to please the eye and delight the palate; each also connects us to the past. New American cuisine is our most mature blending of "indigenous ingredients, regional preferences, ethnic influences, and historical currents and traditions" to date, as David Belman wrote in the trade publication Restaurants USA.

With the ripening of new American cuisine has come a stunning profusion of restaurants and cookbooks devoted to the exquisite, authentic rendition of cooking from around the world. We do not just have Chinese food. We have Hunan, Szechuan, Cantonese, and more, and before we leave Asia, we can add Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, and Pan-Asian noodle houses offering up Indonesian and Malaysian variations. Where "Italian" once meant tomato sauce, we now choose from specialists in the cooking of Piedmont, Tuscany, Liguria, or Sicily. "Pacific Rim" cooks and Mediterranean restaurants span continents to offer samples of the beguiling similarities and intriguing differences on the stovetops where a body of water meets the land.

Meanwhile, any local supermarket bursts today with exotica unheard of 20 or 30 years ago. Consider the produce department. The ubiquitous white button mushroom is now just the humblest offering in a mushroom section, which also typically includes portabella, cremini, and shiitake, for starters. Iceberg lettuce must make room for green leaf, red leaf, escarole, endive, radicchio, Boston, and more. Most of those lettuces are now also available prewashed, impeccably fresh, and absurdly convenient, packaged in high-tech plastic bags. Through hybridization, we have discovered entirely new fruits and vegetables: Grocers have recently introduced us to broccoflower, the plumcot, and broccolini.

There is no avoiding a simple conclusion: Whatever else may be true of our cultural condition, future gourmands, "foodies," and social historians alike will conclude that by the end of the twentieth century, the golden age of cooking and eating was upon us.

On the surface, the American food obsession may seem merely a passing fancy fueled by prosperity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Golden Age of Cooking
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.