Is there such a thing as American cuisine? James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Cashion and Yale history professor and author Paul Freedman have a thought-provoking discussion about the intersection of food, restaurants and American culture with and hosts Debbie and Billy Shore. Freedman’s newest book, American Cuisine and How It Got This Way, explores the evolution from regionalism to the standardization of food in the 20th century and how that trend is reversing. “Homogenization, standardization, industrial food… that’s the main trend in American history for the 20th century,” he explains. Cashion describes the “active educational process” she used to have with her customers about using seasonal and sustainable food on her menus. “People are more in tune with what it means these days, and are more supportive of it,” she says.
“Sylvia’s, the famous African American restaurant in Harlem, reflects not only the history of African American cuisine but the great migration of African Americans to the north,” explains Freedman, author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America. “I was in the kitchen of a Ramada Inn in Jackson, Mississippi, working with a total African American staff. It was such a great learning experience because so many of them just cooked by feel, no recipes,” recounts Cashion about one of her first restaurant jobs.
Listen to this engaging conversation about food, history and culture in America.