Comments on: American cuisine before Julia Child, part I http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Blogs to books: an opportunity or a big mistake? You decide. : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-1085242 Thu, 06 Sep 2012 17:15:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-1085242 [...] in the Martha Stewart style, books about weird diets, or baby blogs turned into baby books.  Even  Julie and Julia was a pretty bad book–entertaining, but poorly written in large sections and only lightly edited, if at all, and it [...]

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By: Becky http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-406487 Tue, 18 Aug 2009 05:32:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-406487 Stumbled on your blog quite late (literally, and in terms of this thread) but I did want to comment: My Ph.D. work was in American Studies/Foodways in the 1980′s, when culinary history was still considered “fluff” by many in the social sciences. At one point it was even suggested by a (sexist pig ;-) advisor that I might be better off taking my cobbled-together topic and dissertation hopes “off to the Home Ec department.” Piffle. ;-)

Anyway, I want to point out that there were persistent *regional* differences in foodways still apparent throughout the post WWII-pre-Julia era, which tend to skew any broad-based cultural analysis of “cooking styles” or the supposed national reliance on heavily advertised “convenience” foods.

You can’t compare the cooking of the southern states –a region fiercely devoted to its culinary history as a strong source of cultural identity–with those of, say, the John Cheever classes in the suburbs of the NE corridor, for instance. Southern women were much more likely to adhere FIERCELY to the time-honored, and time-consuming culinary behaviors of their mothers and grandmothers–as a point of honor,in fact–than were cooks in other regions of the United States. The same could be said of certain ethnic enclaves in the Steel Belt, as well…and then one has to factor in the socio-economic distinctions (mentioned here by other respondents) that had farm wives still practicing labor-intensive “from scratch” cooking–not necessarily from choice, but possibly from economy– long after Jello and “Hungry Man” T.V. dinners had infiltrated the kitchens of the urban family of the same time period.

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By: Jean http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-405997 Mon, 17 Aug 2009 18:46:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-405997 Well, of course, Julia Child wasn’t the *only* person in the America of the late 50s/early 60s who was cooking and eating well. Up until I was 9 in 1962, I had only had the fabulous homecooking of my mother and grandmothers. Everything “from scratch” with fresh ingredients. But in 1962, when I began dining in the homes of friends, I had my first encounters with margarine, cake mix, frosting mix, pancake mix, gravy mix, salad dressing mix, casseroles relying heavily (no pun intended) on canned and packaged convenience foods, packaged puddings and gelatines, imitation ice milk. I don’t know what year the frozen whipped topping came along, but it got to be pretty hard to avoid. And when my mother and I were watching Julia Child on PBS in the mid-60s, none of the other mothers and daughters in the neighborhood were. So I think there were an awful lot of home cooks who really were fitting the stereotype.

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By: SparrowApril http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-399164 Mon, 10 Aug 2009 17:35:33 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-399164 I’m currently reading Julia Child’s book My Life in France. In it Julia mentions cooking out of The Joy of Cooking. After reading that the Julie and Julia movie was a combination of both books Julie and Julia (haven’t read) and My Life in France – I am more interrested in seeing it.

I just blogged about My Life in France, today.
http://thefragranthand.blogspot.com/2009/08/like-sitting-across-sunny-kitchen-table.html

A Past post about why Julia is special to me.
http://thefragranthand.blogspot.com/2009/04/quoting-julia.html

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By: Vance Maverick http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-395726 Thu, 06 Aug 2009 20:26:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-395726 Have you tried any of the recipes? I tried a few from other collections, without great success. But still, a culture hero. Like Child, she was Europhilic, but she was less Eurocentric — or at least, being a general writer rather than a trained transmitter of a specific cuisine, she was better able to express how the tastes she refined in France were rooted in homely America.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-395723 Thu, 06 Aug 2009 20:12:39 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-395723 Vance, you’re absolutely right. I’ve been toying with doing a series of posts on How to Cook a Wolf (1941, I think), which is a book with a timely theme these days (i.e., how to run a household on war rations/in hard times.) M.F.K. Fischer is one of my favorite writers of the 20th C.

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By: Vance Maverick http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-395692 Thu, 06 Aug 2009 19:44:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-395692 I’m coming to this late, but I would strongly urge people to read MFK Fisher. Her work makes clear that “post-Julia”-type food consciousness was quite possible in pre-Julia America (and that it wasn’t the only alternative to processed foods); and she wrote really well. The Gastronomical Me is probably the single best book; I think Gourmet has various of her articles in its online archives.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-393993 Tue, 04 Aug 2009 22:25:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-393993 I’ll try to pick that up–thanks for the tip.

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By: Academic2 http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-393729 Tue, 04 Aug 2009 14:17:17 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-393729 It is worth reading *My life in France*; Julia Child readily acknowledges the role of other chefs in the changing of the American food landscape and she talks about finding and getting local foods as well.

Plus, it’s a very good read.

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By: Paige http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/02/american-cuisine-before-julia-child-part-i/comment-page-1/#comment-393201 Mon, 03 Aug 2009 19:33:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=6637#comment-393201 I think you make an excellent point in this essay. I, too, spent a great deal of time with my grandmother during my childhood years. My grandparents live in very rural AL, and always grew their own vegetables. I worked in the garden each morning with my grandmother, then would help to prepare the noontime meal. We spent the afternoon in her kitchen putting by the food we had harvested from the garden: canning green beans, tomatoes, squash pickle relish; freezing peas, butter beans, squash, eggplant, zucchini, corn, creamed corn; and making stock from the leftovers. Oh how I wish I had been prescient at age 10 to take notes. Still, as I have grown older, the lessons have stayed with me. I do my very best to cook all of my family’s meals, without resorting to processed, packaged ingredients. Perhaps Julia Child articulated the importance of using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients; and perhaps she served as an important bridge between people like my grandmother and their daughters/sons and grandchildren. Perhaps Julia provided some credence – on an unconsious level – for the next generation to understand the importance of cooking well from seasonal ingredients available locally.

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