Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: Hung, Strung and Potted: A History of Eating Habits in Colonial American by Sally Smith Booth

Synopsis: When colonial settlers first landed in America, that found no vast treasure of gold or rare spices, but something much more valuable to survival - the world's largest outdoor supermarket. This is the story of how city-dwelling Europeans, along in the wilderness, learned to tame the New World's forest and streams. The far of pioneers at all levels of society is portrayed, from the aristocrat who dined on potted swan, to the modest farmer supping on beaver tails or poke greens, and the slave with his cornmeal mush. Completing the portrait of young America's victuals are descriptions of Indian foods and explanations of the legends and taboos which linked the red man so closely with nature. Much of the material is from rare diaries and journals of the period, which show colonial life as seen by those who actually lived it. Many of the illustrations are derived from other precious volumes of the day, designed to show this alien land to patrons in the Old World. Farming, Hunting and cooking techniques are chronicled along with glimpses of various tools and utensils. Nearly 250 authentic recipes are included, and range from instructions on how to stuff a cock's comb to preparing an entire turtle. With its extensive glossary and bibliography, this volume will be a delight for the casual reader, and a special treat for historians, housewives and epicureans. (from the back of the book)

Review: While I enjoyed this book, I found several aspects mildly frustrating. Booth clearly has a wide range of knowledge on the subject. She gives an excellent collection of recipes, divided by main ingredient, and proceeded by a short general essay on the subject. She also have chapters on food acquisition, cooking tools and techniques and dining habits. My qualm is how jumbled the organization is. Things appear in one chapter that belong in another. She jumps topics often, leaving the reader wondering more about the current subject even as they are tossed into another. I wished for more depth and detail. Also, the illustrations, while numerous, often have nothing to do with the text places next to them. It's rather odd. In all, I would recommend this book as a supplement, but not a main text. I'm certain something better has been written in the 40+ years since this was published.

Bookmarks: 6.5 of 10

Awards: None

Published: 1971
Date Finished: 12-21-2013
Pages: 238

No comments:

Post a Comment