KITCHEN CULTURE is one of my favorite types of cookbooks – not just a cookbook although it does contain many favorite recipes…not just a foodlore book, although it’s that, too. A combination of both, Ms. Schremp industriously covers fifty years of culinary history. Taking us from (vaguely) remembered ration stamps and margarine capsules to modern-day microwave ovens and salad bars.
I remember when I first began researching material for “A Tribute to Helen’s Cookbook” that I searched in vain for more information about Harry Baker’s chiffon cake. I knew that it had been created in the 1920s by a gentleman living in Los Angeles; I knew that General Mills bought out the recipe—but there the trail ended. I was unable, at that time, to find any other information about Harry Baker’s chiffon cake…..and there it was, on page 19 of Kitchen Culture.
(When I first began writing cookbook reviews for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, we didn’t have Google or the internet—all of which has changed how we retrieve sought-after information. Back in the early 1990s, my chief source of information were the few food history books I had added to my reference books. And FOOD HISTORY is a relatively new branch of study).
Cooks and food faddists and trivia buffs will all find something enjoyable in Gerry Schremp’s informative, easy to read book, jam-packed with fifty years of food history.
Many of our favorite recipes are here, as well. I’ve noticed that readers are constantly besieging newspaper food columnists for those old childhood favorites…you’ll find most of them within the pages of Kitchen Culture, everything from tuna and noodle casserole (which I confess not liking) to steak Diane (which I do). Incidentally, many of these old favorites are still popular. At an upscale restaurant in Northern California not long before I received Kitchen Culture to review, I watched Steak Diane being prepared at a diner’s table. And haven’t we all tried tomato soup cake? (very good, too, like a spice cake).
Ms. Schremp’s bibliography is an impressive one; she states that her aim in writing this book was to entertain as well as inform. For statistics that went into Kitchen Culture, she relied on those that the government has compiled, as well as what manufacturers, retailers, food processers, trade associations and general magazines had to offer.
The book is packed with an impressive array of photographs, which include pictures of all seven Betty Crockers (from her inception to present day)—interestingly, Betty has progressively gotten younger while the rest of us are getting older.
It is most interesting to follow the evolution of our eating habits and the streamlining of appliances – to see how many changes have taken place as we went from mom and pop grocery stores to modern supermarkets.
As one who remembers most of the past fifty years (and then some) and have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, KITCHEN CULTURE is a kind of book that I can easily relate to, as well.
Like to read? Like to cook? Often wonder where recipes or ideas come from? I think KITCHEN CULTURE is a book you will enjoy reading and refer to over and over again.
KITCHEN CULTURE is available on Amazon.com from one cent (yes, one cent) and up or new for $4.92. On Alibris.com you can buy the book for 99c for a pre owned copy or $4.92 for a new copy.
If you – like me – like to know something about the history of food –this is an easy read albeit packed with history and photographs.
HAPPY COOKING & HAPPY COOKBOOK COLLECTING! Although it does contain recipes, I’d consider it more of a food history book than a cookbook.
Happy cooking & happy cookbook collecting!