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By Marie Drews, Monika Elbert

Culinary Aesthetics and Practices in Nineteenth-Century American Literature examines the preponderance of foodstuff imagery in nineteenth-century literary texts. Contributors to this quantity learn the social, political, and cultural implications of scenes regarding foodstuff and eating and illustrate how “aesthetic” notions of culinary instruction are frequently undercut via the particular practices of cooking and consuming. As participants interrogate the values and meanings at the back of culinary discourses, they complicate ordinary notions approximately American id and query the ability constitution at the back of nutrition creation and intake.

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C. Duncan’s How to Be Plump (1878). Dr. Duncan’s claim that “[t]he quieting effect of a few pounds of fat” promotes “the happiness of mankind” provided one rationale for the increasingly fancy dinners being held in the new breed of restaurants (4–5). By the last decades of the century, imitation of Delmonico’s quickly moved public dining toward cosmopolitan sophistication. Hotel menus from the period trace this process: “In the late 1860s and early 1870s they tended to be mainly English/American in their offerings and language, with only an occasional French touch.

Com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-14 32 33 united through shared ideals of pleasure” (xxxii). Through the countrybook genre, authors such as Robert Barry Coffin articulated a shared aesthetic and identified the suburb as the location for its ideal expression. Over the course of Out of Town and Cake and Ale at Woodbine, Coffin’s narrator embraces the capacity of food to foster connections between friends and family members, and, ultimately, to redefine the domestic experience.

3 At the same time, the massive movement from the farm to the city led “urban Americans [to] redefin[e] the meanings of simplicity and comfort in accordance with new conditions” (Blumin, Emergence of the Middle Class 6). What Mary Grace Wall terms the “ethic of spartan usefulness” that had served rural Americans so well “could not accommodate a revolution in consumption” (98). Growing consumerism marked a paradigm shift in values: from need to desire, from economy to extravagance, from conservation to consumption.

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