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Old 04-10-2021, 12:53 PM   #1
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Book Club - April 2121 - "Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine"

"Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine" by Sarah Lohman

https://www.amazon.com/Eight-Flavors.../dp/1476753954

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This unique culinary history of America offers a fascinating look at our past and uses long-forgotten recipes to explain how eight flavors changed how we eat.

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens—then she asks why.

Eight Flavors introduces the explorers, merchants, botanists, farmers, writers, and chefs whose choices came to define the American palate. Lohman takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future. We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations and Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat—ready to be devoured.
Question #1: Do you use all of these flavors?
Question #2: Which of the eight is your favorite?
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Old 04-10-2021, 03:14 PM   #2
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This book is much more my style. You can feel her excitement as she makes these discoveries.

I use all 8 flavors, including the much maligned MSG, both naturally and in salt form. But my favorite has to be vanilla. I've been known to dab it on instead of perfume. It's sweet flowery notes evoke all kinds of warm homey feelings, the kind I always wished I had in memory. Like the childhood I wanted.
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Old 04-10-2021, 03:56 PM   #3
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I just requested a copy from the library system. I should have it by midweek. Meanwhile, I clicked over to the Amazon link and discovered that she grew up in "Cleveland". A deeper dive specified it as Hinkley. That's the township next to the city we lived in for 23 years - and almost 18 miles from Cleveland as the buzzard flies.

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/ne...e1b1b53ab.html

I wonder which of those eight flavors would work best with buzzard...
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Old 04-10-2021, 05:29 PM   #4
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This book is much more my style. You can feel her excitement as she makes these discoveries.

I use all 8 flavors, including the much maligned MSG, both naturally and in salt form. But my favorite has to be vanilla. I've been known to dab it on instead of perfume. It's sweet flowery notes evoke all kinds of warm homey feelings, the kind I always wished I had in memory. Like the childhood I wanted.
{{{hugs}}}
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Old 04-10-2021, 05:29 PM   #5
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I just requested a copy from the library system. I should have it by midweek. Meanwhile, I clicked over to the Amazon link and discovered that she grew up in "Cleveland". A deeper dive specified it as Hinkley. That's the township next to the city we lived in for 23 years - and almost 18 miles from Cleveland as the buzzard flies.

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/ne...e1b1b53ab.html

I wonder which of those eight flavors would work best with buzzard...
Curry pepper buzzard?
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Old 04-10-2021, 06:42 PM   #6
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If anyone reads on a Kindle this book is available on Amazon for $1.99. Just sayin.
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Old 04-11-2021, 12:44 AM   #7
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That would be easy, as to which is my favorite - GARLIC! I have several types of soy sauce, and that would be next, since I add them to many non-Asian dishes, as well as the traditional dishes. Black pepper or chili powder (but only pure chili powder) next. I have several curry powders I make myself, that I keep in the freezer, since I don't use them up quickly, but I always pick the one that seems the best for the recipe calling for it. I like vanilla, but I don't make enough sweets to have that near the top of the list. I don't have any MSG, but I'm not one of those that thinks that it's a poison, as I eat a lot of natural sources of glutamates. I have a bottle of sriracha, but seldom use it, and definitely not as a condiment - I'm not a fan of hot sauces, despite loving hot peppers!
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:29 AM   #8
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Kobo said they had it but for some reason I couldn't buy it. Did get it on Kindle, haven't started it just yet.

Pepper, Sriracha I think is great although I don't consider it a 'sauce' per se. I add into the food while cooking, not usually after, does that make it a sauce? I also have Harrissa, most fantastic taste but not considered a sauce either. I consider a sauce something you 'pour' over the finished food, or puddle beside for dipping.

I use all but MSG, not that I would have any problems using it, just never had a recipe with it in. Some of my older books call for it but I've never understood or had a reason to get some. Always just thought of it as a preservative to keep bright colours or crispness or something to that effect. Perhaps this book will change my mind?

Of the eight I would say pepper and garlic top the list. I like the others, just can't say they are on any list, although.... umm.... maybe soy sauce.
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Old 04-11-2021, 07:57 AM   #9
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Kobo said they had it but for some reason I couldn't buy it. Did get it on Kindle, haven't started it just yet.

Pepper, Sriracha I think is great although I don't consider it a 'sauce' per se. I add into the food while cooking, not usually after, does that make it a sauce? I also have Harrissa, most fantastic taste but not considered a sauce either. I consider a sauce something you 'pour' over the finished food, or puddle beside for dipping.

I use all but MSG, not that I would have any problems using it, just never had a recipe with it in. Some of my older books call for it but I've never understood or had a reason to get some. Always just thought of it as a preservative to keep bright colours or crispness or something to that effect. Perhaps this book will change my mind?

Of the eight I would say pepper and garlic top the list. I like the others, just can't say they are on any list, although.... umm.... maybe soy sauce.
I think sauces can be used as ingredients. I sometimes use Sriracha as an ingredient in a stir-fry sauce. I have chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce and others.

This book will definitely change your mind about MSG. It's not a preservative
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Old 04-11-2021, 07:24 PM   #10
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I will be downloading it tonight! It sounds great!

Thanks for selecting the next book, GG!
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Old 04-12-2021, 01:18 PM   #11
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I don't know where everyone is yet with this book, so I don't want to post any "spoilers." Suffice to say I am enjoying the story this author presents and have already learned some new respect for pepper. Her writing style is smooth and chatty without being hard to take. No f-bombs here. Even her presentation of historical facts are light and interesting. I like the fact that she traveled to Salem and toured the home of the family she talks about, makes me want to do the same thing. And her summer job before she even started this book would have been a dream job for me. I'd love to know where this village museum is in Ohio. Great selection and looking forward to reading more.
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Old 04-12-2021, 03:49 PM   #12
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...And her summer job before she even started this book would have been a dream job for me. I'd love to know where this village museum is in Ohio...
From having lived in northeast OH nearly 50 years, and from the bit of the author's bio I saw online, I'm going to guess that she was a docent/historical reenactor at The Hale Farm and Village, part of the Western Reserve Historical Society. We lived about 15 miles from there and visited a number of times. Lots of fun, good educational programs, and a very pretty area outside of the Akron metro area.
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Old 04-13-2021, 04:22 PM   #13
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I don't know where everyone is yet with this book, so I don't want to post any "spoilers." Suffice to say I am enjoying the story this author presents and have already learned some new respect for pepper. Her writing style is smooth and chatty without being hard to take. No f-bombs here. Even her presentation of historical facts are light and interesting. I like the fact that she traveled to Salem and toured the home of the family she talks about, makes me want to do the same thing. And her summer job before she even started this book would have been a dream job for me. I'd love to know where this village museum is in Ohio. Great selection and looking forward to reading more.
I'm glad you're enjoying it

I was talking to DH about the Black Pepper Sugar Cookie recipe and he said it sounded kind of like pfeffernüsse, a German Christmas cookie made with black pepper and warm spices. I'm going to give that one a try.

It's amazing how we can take for granted spices that not all that long ago were only available to the wealthy.
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:48 PM   #14
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I make a molasses cookie that has black pepper in it. It came from ATK years ago. Its wonderful, and the pepper works in it.
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Old 04-14-2021, 03:49 PM   #15
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I am also enjoying the book. I do love the cultural, historical perspectives. Pepper is something I do enjoy, and I like experimenting with different peppers that I run across - which is not often. I purchased a pepper sampler once. It kept me amused for a long while.
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Old 04-14-2021, 05:21 PM   #16
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I plan on making the Black Pepper Sugar Cookies in the near future, but will most likely half the recipe. That way if it's not a hit I won't waste ingredients on a large batch. Hubs will be the guinea pig because I won't tell him what's in them until after.
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Old 04-16-2021, 03:52 PM   #17
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So, who has finished the black pepper chapter? Any thoughts about it?

I never thought very much about pepper until I bought Penzeys brand Tellicherry pepper. The flavor is much more intense than supermarket brands, even when it's pre-ground. I have to remember to use less than most recipes suggest.

Linda, I'm going to make a half recipe of the Black Pepper Brown Sugar cookies, too, and share with some neighbors for opinions.
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Old 04-16-2021, 08:06 PM   #18
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I've finished the first chapter and am half-way into the second chapter. Like I said, I've always loved pepper and even purchased a sampler of it. Even after the sampler, I am a newbie when it comes to pepper variations. What would be great is to have access to a spice market! Spices - especially the non-general types - are so expensive.

Pepper cookies sound delightful! I cannot imagine them to be anything other than good!
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Old 04-16-2021, 08:57 PM   #19
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I picked up a book at the library on Wednesday. In the last two nights, I've managed to read to about the half-way mark of Chapter 4, Curry Powder. I'm really enjoying Sarah Lohman's writing style, very conversational. It's almost like meeting up with a friend you haven't seen for a long time over a leisurely lunch, catching up on what she's been doing since...forever.

Pepper is a frequently used spice in this house. Even as a kid, I remember my Mom using a pepper grinder and going through a lot of whole peppercorns. While I include it in many recipes, Himself is famous for adding fresh grated pepper to his plate of food.

Vanilla! I could take a bath in vanillin! Enough said...

Chili of any kind is always welcome by Himself as a supper. While I enjoy it, for me it's only a cold-weather food.

Not a fan of curry at all. Until I realized that I do use a bit of garam masala on occasion. Still, from all eight flavors featured in this book, it's the one I would willingly give up first.

Looking forward to the rest of the book. Thanks for the pick, GG.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:07 PM   #20
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Wow. I just finished the book , and my reaction was unexpected. While it was written as a book about food and flavors, it hit me on a whole different level. I will wait until others catch up, then make my comments. I look forward to hearing what everyone thinks.
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