From Delmonico’s to Sylvia’s to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out in America as told through ten legendary restaurants.
Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald’s. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.
“Eminently readable. . . .In a narrative that is intellectually delicious, Freedman presents a new way of thinking about ‘you are what you eat.’ This will appeal widely, engaging readers with both a casual or scholarly interest in food history and its influence on American culture in the late 19th and 20th centuries.” - Courtney McDonald, Library Journal
“The most important and entertaining book on the subject of food that I’ve read in years! Paul Freedman paints a portrait of a culture whose cuisine is only beginning to emerge. Witty, sensitive, surprisingly sensuous—more, please!” - Molly O’Neill, author of One Big Table
“Paul Freedman, one of the world’s most learned food writers, has focused his extraordinary scholarship on a deconstruction of American dining from the corner deli to Chez Panisse. If you enjoy a brown paper bag of fried clams as much as a fourteen-course tasting menu, and ever wondered how it all came to be a part of daily American life, this is the book for you. Ten Restaurants That Changed America is the most enlightening kind of history, as Freedman takes a fresh look at what we take for granted and reveals the extraordinary matrix of cultural and culinary currents that have made it all possible.” - Frederick Kaufman, author of Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food
“Pleasure without snobbery: Paul Freedman’s book is itself exactly what the very best American food has always been.” - Joyce E. Chaplin, professor of early American history, Harvard University
“Spanning over 100 years, Paul Freedman’s engrossing and well-researched exploration of the restaurant as an American institution presents us with a gallery of unforgettable characters, iconic dishes, and unique places. Immigrants, entrepreneurs, chefs, and impresarios all loom large in a narrative that accurately tracks the historical changes in how we eat in public.” - Fabio Parasecoli, director of Food Studies Initiatives, The New School