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Summary

From Delmonico's to Sylvia's to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out in America as told through 10 legendary restaurants.

Combining a historian's rigor with a foodie's palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco's fabled the Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone's, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé's Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft's, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson's, which pioneered on-the-road dining only to be swept aside by McDonald's.

Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.

©2016 Paul Freedman (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Profile Image for Tag Christof
  • Tag Christof
  • 01-09-20

Worthwhile listen, cringe-worthy pronunciations

Good read, solidly researched, and very well-rounded as far as this sort of history-of-in-10-things books go. The book is organized along a rough timeline, starting with the original Delmonico's and on through the enduring Chez Panisse, and is an interesting lens through which to view the evolution of American culinary tradition over the past couple of centuries. How the likes of McDonalds and Fred Harvey were omitted, yet Howard Johnson's and Schrafft's were included, is beyond me (the book relies on a few fairly specific definitions of 'restaurant'), but overall the framework is very well-considered and the histories are enlightening vis-à-vis one another.

Still, it is nutso that publishers continue to hire narrators who cannot even come close to pronouncing words in a language central to a book's plot. This audiobook is farrrrr from alone in this offense, but a book specifically about food culture that is peppered very heavily with French cuisine terms really should have been read by someone who could've wielded them better than a bad date trying in vain to sound posh and cultured. Szarabajka's pronunciation of even rudimentary terms is just painful. This didn't require an actual francophone, but a rough idea of pronunciation would've been lovely. His massacring of the few Chinese, Spanish, Italian and other cuisine terms is equally bad, but since they appear far less frequently it's not nearly as annoying.

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  • Richard
  • 14-04-17

Interesting perspective

Admittedly besotted with the biographies of great chefs, while I was a bit disappointed with this book, it nonetheless provided an interesting perspective on the evolution and driving forces (both societal and personality-wise) behind eating out in America over the last 150 years

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  • TWW33
  • 25-01-17

Excellently written

This audiobook is fascinating well written and well researched and flows through history time together and number of fascinating themes.

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  • BK Littman
  • 11-02-19

Delicious Details

This is a very detailed and fascinating book. I chose the audio book. The performance was wonderful. I do plan to buy the hard copy though, because it has photos of the places. Readers need to keep in mind that this is the story of ten restaurants that changed America- it is not a top ten type of book. I enjoyed the way the author weaves history, popular culture, and food together. I also like the way the book is organized - impatient readers can pick and choose which restaurants they want to read about. I enjoyed the whole thing and I enjoyed learning about them all and many other restaurants and influences, as well. I would recommend this book . to fans of history, popular culture, travel, and fine dining.

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  • Chris C.
  • 18-04-17

Very long

Good information but sometimes it just seems like it's a lot of extra information we don't need

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  • Craig Bryan
  • 06-10-16

Lived up to expectations did not exceed

I was very excited to listen to this book. It was good but a bit dry and did not go above and beyond. I really didn't learn anything new and not completely convinced that the argument was made why these were the 10 restaurants that changed America. I would get the audio book but go in with managed expectations.

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