Haff (chef instructor, Le Cordon Bleu Coll. of Culinary Arts, Atlanta) compiles the stories of seven prominent cookbook authors in American food history to provide a broad view of the tapestry of American food and an intimate look at the livethese figures. The s of book is divided into two sections. Haff first considers the lives and works of such authors as Amelia Simmons (who wrote the first known American cookbook in 1798), Lafcadio Hearn (La Cuisine Creole, 1885), and French chef Victor Hirtzler (1875–1931).
The second section contains recipes from the books, with instructions that make them accessible for today's cooks. In this well-researched and well-written study, Haff is careful to put each author into historical context. He aptly shows how diverse early American cuisine was as well as how the varied cultural influences infused American foodways. VERDICT This colorful, rich addition to food history is highly recommended. The juxtaposition of historical context, biographies, and recipes makes for a fascinating and enlightening read.—Lisa A. Ennis, Univ. of Alabama.
LISA A. ENNIS is Assistant Professor and librarian at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.