Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman
The Untold Story of American Cuisine

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“Eight Flavors” is the sort of food book that even non-foodies will find fascinating. A lot of that springs from Lohman’s style; while her stories are obviously driven by her quest, her easy prose and obvious passion result in a book that is compelling no matter what your spice rack and pantry might look like.
-The Maine Edge

Synopsis

This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens—then she asks why.

Eight Flavors introduces the explorers, merchants, botanists, farmers, writers, and chefs whose choices came to define the American palate. Lohman takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future. We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations and Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat—ready to be devoured.
 

About Sarah Lohman

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Sarah Lohman is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where she began working in a museum at the age of sixteen, cooking historic food over a wood-burning stove. Lohman moved to New York in 2006 to work for New York magazine’s food blog, Grub Street, and now works with museums and galleries around the city to create public programs focused on food. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR, and she has appeared in NYC-TV’s mini-series Appetite City cooking culinary treats from New York’s past. The author of a twice-monthly food feature for Etsy called “Kitchen Histories,” Eight Flavors is her first book.
 
Published December 6, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. 288 pages
Genres: History, Cooking. Non-fiction
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The Maine Edge

Good
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Dec 14 2016

“Eight Flavors” is the sort of food book that even non-foodies will find fascinating. A lot of that springs from Lohman’s style; while her stories are obviously driven by her quest, her easy prose and obvious passion result in a book that is compelling no matter what your spice rack and pantry might look like.

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