FOOD IN THE UNITED STATES
1820s - 1890
by Susan Williams
(Greenwood Press - 2006)
in the United States 1820s-1890 is the most recent
book in the "Food in American History" series. The
other two titles in the series are Food in Colonial and
Federal America and American Indian Food.
You'll receive a good overview of what the American
home cook experienced during this time period, which the
author has loosely defined as "Victorian". If you have
ever wondered about the eating and cooking customs in the
daily life of those who lived or traveled in America during
this time, whether urban or rural, you will find your
The author sums it up nicely in her Introduction:
"During the Victorian age, Americans
north and south and east and west experienced profound
changes in their diets and food rituals. The growth of
the country, both territorially and economically, brought a
world of new options--new ingredients, new ways of cooking,
new technologies for commercial food processing, and new
accoutrements for serving and eating food."
There are a large number of books and other materials
related to food history and food culture. The author
has gathered information from many of these sources and
brings them together to give the reader a smooth and
interesting read. Notes on her sources are
conveniently found at the end of each chapter. I found
that having this information readily available allowed me to
easily pick and choose from them to add to my reading list
when I find a particular subject that interests me.
Many of her sources were old 19th century cookbooks and a
selected bibliography is found at the rear of the book.
She has also noted which ones are available in digital form
so that the reader can once again easily find material if
they wish to do so.
The book is not heavily illustrated. Much of this
area consists of black
and white period illustrations of various cooking equipment
and cooking tools.
In the situations where I would like to browse through a
book, but cannot, I am ever grateful to those who provide
insight to the contents of the book. I have included a
listing below of the chapters and sections found in this
book. You'll find information about foods of the period,
eating habits such as manners, customs, mealtimes, special
occasions and their concepts of diet and nutrition.
The information is divided into the following chapters
- Introduction (an overview of the period as it is
related to food)
- A Cookbook of Victorian Ingredients
- Breads and Plain Cakes
- Butter and Cheese
- Fish and Shellfish
- Herbs, Spices, Vinegars, and Condiments
- Wine, Beer, Water, and Other Beverages
- Food Preparation and Cookery
- From Open Hearth to Stovetop Cookery
- Standardization of Cookery
- Cooks, Cookbooks and Cooking Schools
- Elaboration of Cooking Utensils and Equipment
- Paring, Coring, Grinding and Chopping
- Pickling and Canning
- Mixing and Beating
- Chilling and the Rise of Refrigeration
- Regional Foodways in Victorian America
- New England and the Northeast
- The Mid-Atlantic Region
- The South
- The Midwest
- The West
- Eating Habits
- Picnics and Dining Out of Doors
- Holiday Meals and Celebrations
- Concepts of Diet and Nutrition
- Dietary Reform and the Health of the Nation
- Temperance Reformers and the Elevation of Water
- Religious Ideology and Food Rituals
What can I say? I really like this book.
There are other, more lengthy and scholarly tomes available
on this subject, but this book serves a good purpose.
It's certainly a good starting point if one is interested in
United States food history.
Get your own copy of
Food in the United States
1820s-1890. Speaking from a food lover's point of
view, I also think it would make a fantastic gift.
Find reviews of both new books and out-of-print