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Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage

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About the Author

John van Willigen is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Kentucky, USA and the author of many books, including Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950.


"Van Willigen's Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage: Two Hundred Years of Southern Cuisine and Culture (2014) is an impressive tour-de-force of the history of Kentucky's cookbook culture. [...] Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage is brightly written for an intelligent, involved general audience. It should have value both for home cooks interested in the history and politics of regional foodways and for historians who cook. The book should also appeal to folklorists, Americanists, and scholars of popular literature and food culture. Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage is a delightful, chock-full survey of the region's cookbook cultures and traditions that combines smart argument, local color and ample human interest." -- Digest "[...] [B]ut our local food is a staple each southerner is proud of and in John Van Willigen's K entucky's Cookbook Heritage, he proves just this. Van Willigen is the first to focus on and analyze the significance of the cookbooks of Kentucky. Through these cookbooks, he traces the changes in Kentucky culture and history through the way people treated the food they ate and how that impacted one's life." -- Tennessee Libraries ""Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage" is not simply a cookbook. Yes there are recipes in it--but it's much more than that." -- Lee and J.J. MacFadden, Bristol Herald-Courier ""Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage" deserves a place on the shelf beside your favorite cookbooks." -- Janet Haynes, Bowling Green Daily News ""I am a huge fan of John's previous work 'Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950' and was honored to review an early draft of this fascinating new book. His examination of the evolution of Kentucky cookbooks through numerous lenses is unique. Not only does he look at recipe evolution through societal and cultural changes such as pre and post-civil war cookbooks but also how the actual equipment available to the home cook impacted the recipes. From hearth cooking on an open fire to wood and coal fired stoves, to gas and urban and rural electrification and even microwaves John shows how the recipes have evolved to take advantage of each new fangled appliance." - Bob Perry, Chief in Residence, Dietetics and Human Nutrition, University of Kentucky" -- "It takes a gifted anthropologist and food expert -- and John van Willigen is both -- to make Kentucky's priceless culinary heritage clear. For example, the eye-popping range of ingredients and sophisticated preparations John discovered in Kentucky's earliest cookbook changed forever how I think about Kentucky food and its history. I followed happily along this unprecedented, guided, 175-year taste journey, all the way to new Kentucky foods like freshwater shrimp. A friendly, engaging, delicious read." -- Rona Roberts, host of Savoring Kentucky and author of Sweet, Sweet Sorghum: Kentucky's Golden Wonder " Kentucky's Cookbook Heritage contains a great deal of fascinating information that will be of interest to the general public as well as to individuals interested in cookbooks in general and in American culinary history." -- Lucy Long, author of Culinary Tourism

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