While it may seem like the widespread, worldwide popularity of cooking shows is a recent phenomenon, this exhaustive book by Kathleen Collins is a fascinating look into our collective fascination with television kitchen shows, which have progressively become less didactic and more entertaining.
The book’s appeal is not only limited to foodies, but is a an illuminating look at the evolution of American popular culture and media throughout the generations.
Her research ranges from radio programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the mid-1920s, to the first post-war television show hosted by the “pioneer” of American cuisine, James Beard, to Julia Child’s iconic show The French Chef, which began airing in 1963 on PBS and changed the way Americans thought about food (and television) forever, and continues to today’s Food Network – where chefs have been elevated to celebrity status and viewers laughingly refer to their addiction to “food porn”.
Collins, a librarian by profession, has already authored several books about television, media history, popular culture and food. Her work has appeared in the magazines. She has also written encyclopedia entries on a variety of media history topics.
Watching What We Eat
By Kathleen Collins
Published by Continuum, 2010
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Photo courtesy Continuum