Eight Flavors

Eight Flavors

The Untold Story of American Cuisine

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
The young gastronomist formerly behind New York magazine's Grub Street food blog presents a culinary history of America that chronicles the diverse cultures that shaped the nation's cuisine, using long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight distinct flavors changed how we eat.

& Taylor

Looks at eight flavors--black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha--and the history of how they first came into American cooking.

Simon and Schuster
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 kitchens—then 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 Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat—ready to be devoured.

Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2016
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Description: xviii, 280 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9781476753959
Branch Call Number: 641.5973 Lohman
641.5973 Loh


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Nov 28, 2017

In this combination cookbook, historical investigation, and blog in book form, Ms. Lohman traces the origins and uses of eight common seasonings in American cooking. The list is eclectic and unexpected, including black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, Sriracha (!), and MSG (!!). The history of each is given along with historical recipes (i.e. how they were used in the early 19th century), more recent recipes, and personal anecdotes. This is a fascinating book of trivia – including interesting facts such as that rosewater was much more common than vanilla in early America, or that 19th-century “soy sauce” was the same as “ketsap”, often homemade, and usually didn’t contain any soy. The inclusion of MSG is a sore point (it is an artificial additive, even if the author does try hard to debunk its connection to migraines) but otherwise the book is worth at least a casual read.

Jan 25, 2017

This was a delightful read. Combining history, cooking, travel and just enough science to give it some authority. Who knew many of these spices had been in the US for so long? She includes recipes from the 18th-21st centuries. Eight flavors would make a great book club book.

BostonPL_LauraB Jan 20, 2017

This is a short, quick read on a very interesting topic. Loved learning about the history of American cuisine and how these eight flavors made it to US soil and into our everyday cooking. Sarah Lohman's job sounds like the best thing ever and if I lived in New York, I would totally try and be friends with her. Considering how many times she was like "I invited my friends over for a dinner party where I made...." or how she did an entire Colonial-era food themed dinner - so cool! I also learned that there is a Brooklyn Museum of Food and Drink, which you KNOW I will be checking out on my next trip to NYC :)

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