My writings about food circle around the well-known phrase, “You are what you eat.” Often credited to 19th-century French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the idea remains popular today, and studies of earlier food cultures reveal it has long been an important belief. My interests in food, however, also center upon idealized food practices and their places in utopian communities.
Idealized food practices have changed, I explain in the introduction to a 2015 special issue (26.1) of the journal Utopian Studies. Since Eating in Eden: Food and American Utopias appeared, utopian foodways have turned to production that is better for sustaining the earth. In addition, food ideals are conveyed now through... More >
“Savory Bites: Books on Eating in Early America,” appeared in Early American Literature 50.2 (2015). On the hot topic of food and literature, it considers three books on American literature and culture from colonial exploration through Reconstruction: Ann Chandonnet’s Colonial Food (Shire 2013); Michael A. LaCombe’s Political Gastronomy: Food... More >
My most recent book, Selections from Eliza Leslie , collects stories, recipes and other works by the nineteenth-century cookbook author and humor writer from Philadelphia. In addition to providing a biographical sketch, my introduction to the volume describes Eliza Leslie’s early career and her prominence among American women writers at her... More >
Drawing from our interests in utopian communities and religious history, my co-editor Martha Finch and I highlight in Eating in Eden (U Nebraska 2006) American food practices that range from those of colonial English Puritans and Spanish Catholics to those of more recent groups of European Jews and Indian Hindus.... More >
Vegetarianism is not a recent American trend, influenced by immigrant cultures and travel abroad. Waves of interest in meatless diets have surged and ebbed through the centuries. In fact, even 18th-century American “founding father” Benjamin Franklin abstained from meat as a young adult. According to his Autobiography, Franklin was motivated... More >