The Gourmet Revolution: Food Culture in America, 1941-1964
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By examining contemporary culinary publications and other food-related sources such as cookbooks, newspaper articles, magazines and other ephemera I aim to show that the gourmet movement of the post World War II period exemplifies a shift in popular American food culture unlike any other in its history. This movement took place in the minds of Americans, as much as on their plates. Americans were not necessarily eating any better or more diversely by the end of this period, but they certainly became aware of what it would look like to do so. This is the most important aspect of the gourmet revolution, as Americans became acclimated to a new vernacular of food culture. By 1968 many Americans still could not (or had no desire to) produce a four star meal in their home, but they now knew what one looked like. If the gourmet revolution did not produce new legions of haute cuisine chefs, it did produce a new kind of consumer: one that expected more variety and elaborate ambiance surrounding their food. This is both the triumph and the tragedy of the American gourmet revolution. While it had antecedents in past practice, what was created during this period was a system of producing, talking about, and consuming food that was thoroughly grounded in Modernity and distinctly American.