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America's Kitchens


by Nancy Carlisle and Melinda Talbot Nasardinov

Chef James Recommendation:
BUY THIS BOOK.  On a 1 to 10 scale, this book is an 11.
Of the hundreds of books I have listed and reviewed here on since I began in 1999, this is among the BEST. Suffice it to say that on the day I received a copy, I could not help but to stop working and spend several hours reading and enjoying the incredibly rich visual content and text of America's Kitchens. 

America's Kitchens is interesting, informative, and entertaining. Lavishly illustrated with drawings, paintings, period posters, newspaper and magazine advertisements, color and black & white photos of people, kitchens, and equipment. America's Kitchens is a treasure trove of cultural information that tells the story of this room that is central to our lives in so many ways. If you enjoy, you will love this fascinating book. The photos and illustrations alone make this a must have book for anyone interested in culinary history.  Kudos to the authors, the book designers and Historic New England for producing a truly wonderful book.

It is amazing what this one room--at times a harried workspace and at others the sentimental heart of the home--has meant to people over the course of more than four centuries.

America's Kitchens tells the story of this important room and features New England hearths, detached kitchens on southern plantations, Spanish colonial kitchens of the Southwest, elaborate nineteenth-century kitchens in the Midwest, and middle-class open-plan homes of 1950s suburbia. The book traces technological developments such as the introduction of the cast-iron cookstove, the efficiency of the Hoosier cabinet, and the impact of the frozen food industry to suggest how these innovations have transformed kitchen work and changed women's lives.

Innovatively designed and lavishly illustrated with historic drawings, photographs, and a fascinating array of ephemera from Historic New England's diverse collections, America's Kitchens describes what it was like to live with and work in kitchens that had none of the conveniences we take for granted. At the same time, the book analyzes the profound place of the kitchen in our own lives today.

About the Author
A curator for more than twenty years at Historic New England, Nancy Carlisle works with some of the most important historic kitchens in the country and has written and lectured widely on the material culture of domestic life. Melinda Talbot Nasardinov, a former assistant curator at Historic New England, is a graduate of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and writes about American decorative arts and the history of domestic life. This book follows The Camera's Coast in a series of books featuring Historic New England's collections.


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