This work describes the lives, careers and significance of seven chefs and authors who had profound influences on the creation of American cuisine: Amelia Simmons, author of the first known American cookbook; Mary Randolph, whose The Virginia Housewife is considered the first regional American cookbook; Miss Leslie and her bestselling 19th century work; former slave Mrs. Abby Fisher and her book on Southern cooking; Lafcadio Hearn's La Cuisine Creole; Charles Ranhofer's influence on the role of the modern chef; and Victor Hirtzler and his California cuisine. The second section includes selected recipes from each author's books, with notes to aid adaptation by the modern cook.
Haff, Harry. The founders of American cuisine: seven cookbook authors, with historical recipes. McFarland, 2011. 286p bibl indexes afp ISBN 0786458690 pbk; ISBN 9780786458691 pbk. Reviewed in 2011sep CHOICE.
Haff (chef instructor, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Atlanta) has written a definitive work on the origins of American cuisine. The book is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the "lives, careers, and significance" of seven chefs and cookbook authors from the 1800s and early 1900s, including Amelia Simmons, Mary Randolph, Miss Leslie, Mrs. Abby Fisher, Lafcadio Hearn, Charles Ranhofer, and Victor Hirtzler. Part 2 contains recipes from the authors' books, "with notes to aid adaptation by the modern cook." This is a well-researched work that includes direct copies of recipes, illustrations, and photos from primary sources, and gives credit to Native Americans and African Americans for their contributions to American cuisine. Unfortunately, Haff does little to address how the British-influenced cooking of the 13 Colonies evolved as it moved west with manifest destiny, or the German, Scandinavian, and eastern European immigrant influences on American cuisine in the Midwest and West. He also does not mention Fred Harvey, creator of the first restaurant chain in the US to serve the railroads and the first toll roads and interstate highways, who probably had more influence on standardizing American cuisine than any single chef.
Summing Up: Recommended. Culinary collections serving general readers and professionals. -- R. S. Wexelbaum, Saint Cloud State University
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