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Eight Flavors
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine | Sarah Lohman
22 posts | 7 read | 2 reading | 24 to read
This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat. The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table. She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchensthen she asks why. Eight Flavors introduces the explorers, merchants, botanists, farmers, writers, and chefs whose choices came to define the American palate. Lohman takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future. We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations and Lohmans own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treatready to be devoured.
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SarahMillerBooks
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When your snack is an accidentally perfect match for Chapter 8.

Also? The racism this book chronicles will make your jaw drop, which is inconvenient if you‘re drooling over the recipes, but not as inconvenient as RACISM ITSELF, so pay attention!

7 likes1 stack add
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MrBook
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#TBRtemptation post 1! America may have a unique culinary landscape. And the young historical gastronomist has determined that is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha. She combs through economic, religious, and economic records, cookbooks, manuscripts, & bills of lading, from the early colonial days through today. An interesting history indeed! #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

slategreyskies I almost checked this out on #Hoopla last night. It looks good! :) 2y
SauerPatch How disappointing that MSG is listed as one of them... 😒 2y
68 likes7 stack adds2 comments
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Readingrobin
Mehso-so

After hearing this dynamic author I eagerly jumped into reading this and felt like it dragged for me. I wanted more of her experience and less technical stuff, I guess. Great concept and very interesting but slow reading.

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shelf-improvement
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Been in a serious reading slump lately, so I'm hoping some good nonfiction gets me out. That's my usual rut-busting strategy. What's yours?

Husband and I are on a NYC bound train for the weekend and I can't wait to eat my way through the city!

jfalkens Reread or switch genres 2y
snacksinthestacks That book is fantastic, Im reading right now! You can also sign up for my newsletter for book reviews and recipes 😜tinyletter.com/snacksinthestacks 2y
snacksinthestacks I also like to simultaneously read fiction and nonfiction, that way I can switch it up if need be 2y
38 likes3 comments
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BethFishReads
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Mehso-so

Not sure how to rate this. Somewhere between so-so & pick. Interesting & well-researched look at 8 foods that found their way onto the mainstream American table. Some of the tangents were, frankly, a little boring; plus I didn't find anything surprising. The #audiobook was read by the author—always a risky business—and I can't really recommend her performance. If you aren't well read in food history you'll like this much more than I did.

DebinHawaii Bummer! I was wondering about this one but won't rush to look for it. 😬 2y
BethFishReads @DebinHawaii there are so many better books in my opinion 2y
Megabooks Author read audiobooks can definitely be questionable! 2y
58 likes3 comments
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Readingrobin
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Yep this is a photo of the author from a few weeks ago when she gave a talk at Lippitt House in Providence, RI.

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AFridayFriend
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This one is fun! So interesting. If you're into food and history, it's a must read

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Lindy
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Contrary to popular stereotype, Americans do like spicy food. It's in our biology. Much like chili powder & curry powder, Sriracha gets us a little bit high every time we eat it. The capsaicin in its jalapeño peppers triggers heat receptors in our mouths, & our brains release endorphins as a response. The experience is addictive so we repeat it again & again with spicier & spicier food.

BethFishReads This is on my pile 3y
RealLifeReading Sounds fascinating! 3y
Lindy @BethFishReads @RealLifeReading It's all kinds of interesting. 👍 3y
diovival So this is why I can't seem to give up flaming hot Cheetos? 🤔 3y
Lindy @diovival Yup. Total addiction. 😉 3y
47 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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Lindy
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Pickpick

This thoroughly enjoyable book is full of fascinating food history. The artwork, on the other hand, kind of detracts. (Above, inkwash drawing "Italian Immigration" in the chapter on garlic.) The eight flavor chapters are followed by a chapter speculating on the next big trend. Will it be matcha? Pumpkin spice? Smoke? Cardamom? I am curious too.

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Lindy
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After the war, much of Kikkoman's raw material for making soy sauce - soy and wheat - were grown in America and exported to Japan for brewing. In 1972, as business expanded in the US, the company decided to open a factory close to its raw materials, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was the first Japanese manufacturing plant to open in the US.

BookishShelly As a former Wisconsinite, that's very cool to learn. 3y
Lindy @BookishShelly So many things to learn in books. 👍 3y
LeahBergen Please pass the soy... 3y
Bookchipmunk So cool! I'm reading a pile of books about Toyota manufacturing and wonder if the same principles were applied to soy sauce 🤓 3y
Lindy @Bookchipmunk If you find the answer in your research, please share! 3y
41 likes5 comments
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Lindy
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A guest once recalled breakfast at the Crowninshield house; each of the children wanted something different to drink: tea, milk, water, hot chocolate and so on. Irritated by his sons' and daughters' individual requests, George asked a servant to bring a cup of each and a large bowl. He poured the drinks all together, stirred them up and said, "Now, children, help yourselves."

geodynamical Lol! 3y
25 likes1 comment
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Lindy
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The first soy sauce manufactured in the Western world was produced in 1767 in Thunderbolt, Georgia, near Savannah, long before the first Chinese and Japanese immigrants arrived. A British immigrant named Samuel Bowen introduced soybeans - today a principal crop in America - for the purpose of making soy sauce.

Sace That's it. I'm adding this book to my spring break TBR Stack of Delusion. 3y
Suzze Cool fact! I used to live right by Henry Ford's soybean fields. He even made a soybean car! 3y
36 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Lindy
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Bakers in the late 18th & early 19th centuries used rose water in the same way we use vanilla today: a teaspoon in a cake, a dash in pumpkin pie, even a tablespoon with stewed fruits. Today we associate rose water only with imported or immigrant foods, with no memory that in 1800, using it in apple pie would have been as American as the apple pie itself.

saresmoore Well, that's interesting! I don't think I would know if I was tasting rose water in something. 3y
Hobbinol I used a lot of rose water when I demonstrated 18th century baking. It was wonderful in my pound cakes! 3y
Lindy @saresmoore I correctly identified it in a layered bakery confection someone brought to our last book group, probably because I use it pretty often in my own cooking. . 3y
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Lindy @Hobbinol Ooo! That sounds like an interesting job. 3y
saresmoore @Hobbinol, you're as layered as an onion! @Lindy, that is so neat! I think I'm going to have to try incorporating some rose water in my baking. 3y
LeahBergen @saresmoore @Hobbinol has even posted a pic of this before! 😲 I love rose water. I use it in these little Persian teacakes that I make and it's good in rice pudding. 3y
LeahBergen @Lindy Have you cooked with orange water, too? ❤ 3y
Lindy @LeahBergen My thing lately is alcohol extracts. I've made my own vanilla for years, but now I've made a wide range of botanicals, including orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit & mandarin. I cook with them & add them to drinks. 🍊 3y
Sace I recently bought this book. I can't wait to read it. I love your picture. 3y
Lindy @Sace Ha! Thanks. It's the bottle from my cupboard. ☺️ 3y
Sace I love the idea of roses and cooking. On one of my Spanish telenovelas a character made rose petal ice cream and I thought it must be the most delicious stuff ever. I'm stoked to hear that there's info about rose water in this book. (I actually stink at cooking, but I like reading about it.) 3y
Lindy @Sace The part about rose water is early in the book, so you won't have to go far to find it! 3y
44 likes12 comments
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Lindy
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I made Black Pepper Brown Sugar Cookies from a recipe in this book. Very tasty.

ReadingEnvy Yum! I first made black pepper cookies (paprenjaci) after reading 3y
Lindy @ReadingEnvy I'm glad to know other people who are inspired to cook via fiction. 😀Lohman says this recipe is adapted from one in Martha Washington's A Booke of Cookery. 3y
diovival That sounds so good! 😋 3y
Lindy @diovival They are like gingerbread cookies - they have ginger, coriander and orange peel as well as black pepper. 3y
53 likes4 comments
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Lindy
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Black pepper is currently the number one selling spice in America, representing 10% of all retail spice sales, and Americans use more than 158 million pounds of it per year.

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Lindy
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Novelist Stephen Crane visited San Antonio in 1889 and described his dining experience as follows: "Mexican vendors with open-air stands sell food that tastes exactly like pounded fire-brick from Hades - chile con carne, tamales, enchiladas, chili verde, frijoles."

LeahBergen I love the history of chili and Tex-Mex food. This book has some wonderful old photos in it 3y
Lynnsoprano @LeahBergen Oh, I need to get that for my son😀🌶🌶 3y
Lindy @LeahBergen The chapter on chiles in Eight Flavors has touched on the Tex-Mex culinary history just enough to make me crave more. Thanks! 3y
LeahBergen @Lynnsoprano It's such a good one. 3y
LeahBergen @Lindy 👍🏼 3y
34 likes5 comments
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Lindy
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By 1830 the Mexican government passed the Law of April 6. Americans had been flooding to Tejas, and the law tried to stem the tide by banning further emigration from the States. Yes - at one time a law was passed to stop Americans from immigrating to Mexico.

Bklover Wow!!! 3y
43 likes1 comment
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Lindy
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I don't trust a chocolate cake recipe that calls for 3 1/2 cups of cocoa. I can eat chocolate like a champ, but come on! This recipe is for one 9-inch round pan. Author credits cake historian Jessica Reed, so I looked her up on line, where I found her recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Black Pepper Ganache. Reed calls for only 1/2 cup of cocoa. That sounds right.

queerbookreader That's so expensive too I'm not using that much cocoa for a single recipe!! 3y
Lindy @lemonlime799 It is clearly a mistake. Should be only 1/2 cup of cocoa, not 3 1/2. 3y
Eyelit It's so frustrating to encounter mistakes or typos in cookbooks! I once had a cook book that said to add the oregano - but oregano wasn't even listed in the ingredients list so I always just had to wing it on the amount 🤣 3y
Lindy @Eyelit Yes, extra proofreading is needed for recipes and knitting patterns. 3y
38 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Lindy
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Vanilla would become the world's favourite ice cream flavour. But because the Spanish had monopoly on the sale of vanilla beans, the beans were rare and expensive. In the 18th century, Europeans were far more likely to chow down on more common flavours such as violet, orange, or rye bread ice cream than vanilla.

rubyslippersreads Rye bread ice cream--😝! 3y
Bloomingjen I need to taste rye bread ice cream 3y
saresmoore I just want some rye bread now. But that is a really interesting factoid! 3y
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BethFishReads Who knew? 3y
ReadingEnvy Ooh violet! 3y
Lindy @rubyslippersreads @Bloomingjen @saresmoore @BethFishReads I did a quick internet search and discovered that Iceland and Estonia are the places to go for rye bread ice cream. Or, Food52.com 3y
Lindy @ReadingEnvy I've had violet ice cream and violet yogurt in France. Yum. 3y
Bloomingjen @Lindy Thx for the research...don't know that I will be visiting either place so maybe the interwebs 3y
BethFishReads I think I'd really like it 3y
Lindy @BethFishReads I'm willing to give it a try. 😀 3y
BethFishReads 🍦🍦 3y
Lindy @BethFishReads Now we can tap our emoji cones together and say cheers! 🍦🍦 3y
Hooked_on_books I love rye bread, but as ice cream?!? Ew! There's an Icelandic ice cream brand called Emmessis. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw that. 3y
geodynamical Love me some green tea ice cream! 3y
Lacythebookworm That book sounds intriguing! 3y
Lindy @geodynamical I like green tea ice cream too. Macha green tea used as flavouring is identified by the author as the next big thing in the USA. 3y
55 likes1 stack add17 comments
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Lindy
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Did you know that it wasn't uncommon in the mid-18th century for boys as young as nine to be admitted into the US Navy? I love learning stuff in books.

DivineDiana 😲 3y
Suet624 Ummmmm... 3y
40 likes2 comments
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simonbooks
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"In this affectionate and insightful history of American cookery, Sarah Lohman tells a story filled with surprising characters, unexpected history - and the occasional irresistible recipe. EIGHT FLAVORS is a flavourful delight, start to finish." - Deborah Blum, author of THE POISONER'S HANDBOOK

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