Curious Bites

Two Fascinating New Historical Books on the Evolving USA Restaurant Scene

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Two Fascinating New Historical Books on the Evolving USA Restaurant Scene

Social history and food culture offer up a fascinating parallel in the evolution of the US dining scene in two entertaining new books through the eyes of academic professionals with a trained palate.

Charting the US's rise to culinary heights are food historians Paul Freedman, with 10 well known US restaurants, while stepping back in time, Becky Liboural Diamond spills the details on each course of the 'Thousand dollar dinner,' which let the US take on European kitchens for the first time.

1. Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman (Author), Danny Meyer (Introduction)

Freedman charts the history of ten of America's most significant restaurants over three centuries in parallel with the historical social context of the era; from Delmonico’s and Sylvia’s to Alice Waters's Chez Panisse, the insightful new book comes with 100 supporting photos, as well as some original US menus.

Culinary enthusiasts will find it an entertaining insight into the culinary evolution of the country covering the rise and fall of the popularity of Chinese, Italian and French food; not to mention the early days of on the road dining, which was to be steamrolled by the arrival of McDonalds.

And if you work up an appetite there's also an appendix containing classic recipes like Sylvia’s Boiled String Beans with Ham or Chez Panisse’s Curly Endive, Radicchio, and Fuyu Persimmon Salad.

Ten Restaurants that Changed America hits the shelves on 20 September and is available for purchase through Amazon.


2. The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America's First Great Cookery Challenge by Becky Libourel Diamond 

Diamond takes an in depth look at a decadent banqueting challenge that took place some 100 years ago between a New York and a Philadelphia restaurant.

In what came known as the 'thousand dollar dinner' the winning restaurant puts up "a seventeen-course extravaganza featuring fresh salmon, baked rockfish, braised pigeon, turtle steaks, spring lamb, out-of-season fruits and vegetables, and desserts, all paired with rare wines and liquors" taking a whopping 12 hours to devour.

The lavish dinner even stakes a claim in US history as the turning point in the American culinary arts when the country first highlighted its capacity to take on its European counterparts in the kitchen on an equal footing.

An inspiring read for ambitious chefs and culinary enthusiasts with indepth insight into each course of the pioneering dinner and how a restaurant made a name for itself.

The Thousand Dollar Dinner hits the shelves on 28 October, but can be pre-ordered through Amazon, as well as other retailers.

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