Americans love to eat French, from Delmonico’s Gilded Age excesses to Chez Panisse’s refined perfection. But don’t overlook Howard Johnson’s ice cream and fried clams, Mama Leone’s exuberant pasta, and Antoine’s classic Creole. So while French may be a default setting, Americans flexible feeders–always open to the next thing. In Ten Restaurants that Changed America, Paul Freedman expertly traces this history through ten restaurants–not the best, though they were/are all very good–that pursued style and business in a way that changed how Americans eat, opening us to road food, ethnic flavors, and food worth paying for.
This review appeared in CHoWline, the newsletter of the culinary Historians of Washington, D.C., which is celebrating its 20th year of exploring foodways through time and place. Join us–online or at a meeting.