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Newton Reads 2019

About the Book

Discussion Questions

 

Use the questions below to think about the book, discuss on your own, or join us for a discussion hosted by library staff:

 

Tuesday, March 12 . 10:00 am, Room A

Monday, March 18, 6:15 pm,  Brewer's Coalition, 344 Walnut Street, Newtonville, MA 02460

Thursday, March 28, 7:00 pm, Hooked on Books Group, third floor Rear Arc

 

 

Questions from the author's blog

  1. Lohman mentions omitting certain prominent American flavors from the book, such as chocolate and coffee, because of the wealth of existing coverage and research on them. Why else do you think she specifically chose to feature these eight flavors? What other quintessential flavors in American food are not featured in this book?

 

  1. Lohman profiles the individual histories of each of her eight chosen flavors. Which flavor’s story did you find to be the most engaging or interesting? Why?

 

  1. Which of the eight flavors did you feel you learned the most about? Which did you have the most prior knowledge of?

 

  1. What was the most surprising thing you learned from this book?

 

  1. Lohman argues that American cuisine is “the most complex and diverse cuisine on the planet.” Do you agree with this statement and why?

 

  1. Think about how you personally define the term “American cuisine”, and how Lohman defines it. When does an ingredient imported from another part of the world become “American” and part of “American cuisine”?

 

  1. How has this book changed the way you think about American cuisine; how it is defined, where it comes from, etc?

 

  1. Having read this book, would you consider reading more about the topic of American food history (or food history more broadly)?

 

  1. Has reading this book influenced or affected your tastes in food? For example, do you find yourself wanting to further explore a specific cuisine or more likely to eat or make a certain food than you were before?

 

  1. Consider the examples of MSG, which Lohman describes as unfairly receiving bad press, or vanilla, which became more widespread with advances in production techniques. What other factors influence how a specific ingredient goes up, or down, in popularity? What gives a foodstuff “staying power” in terms of how popular it is?

 

  1. In the final chapter of the book, Lohman speculates where the flavor trends of American cuisine might lead us in the future. What do you make of her predictions? Have you noticed other flavors or ingredients rising in popularity that might become the stars of American cuisine next year? What about five, ten, or even twenty years in the future? Do you expect that the flavors depicted in this book will remain enduringly popular?