Clements Center Evening Lecture Series

Paul Freedman

BBQ, Potlucks, and ‘Tex-Mex’: the Regional Roots of American Cuisine

Thursday, November 7, 2019 | Auditorium #306, 3225 University Blvd., SMU  |  5:30 reception followed by 6 pm lecture and book signing  |

To register online, click here or email swcenter@smu.edu

With an ambitious sweep over two hundred years, Paul Freedman’s lavishly illustrated history shows that there actually is an American cuisine.

For centuries, skeptical foreigners—and even millions of Americans—have believed there was no such thing as American cuisine. In recent decades, hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza have been thought to define the nation’s palate. Not so, says food historian Paul Freedman, who demonstrates that there is an exuberant and diverse, if not always coherent, American cuisine that reflects the history of the nation itself.

Combining historical rigor and culinary passion, Freedman underscores three recurrent themes—regionality, standardization, and variety—that shape a completely novel history of the United States.

American Cuisine and How it Got This Way (Liveright, 2019) is also a repository of anecdotes that will delight food lovers: how dry cereal was created by William Kellogg for people with digestive and low-energy problems; that chicken Parmesan, the beloved Italian favorite, is actually an American invention; and that Florida Key lime pie goes back only to the 1940s and was based on a recipe developed by Borden’s condensed milk. More emphatically, Freedman shows that American cuisine would be nowhere without the constant influx of immigrants, who have popularized everything from tacos to sushi rolls.

Paul Freedman is the Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University and specializes in medieval social history, the history of Catalonia, comparative studies of the peasantry, trade in luxury products, and the history of cuisine.  His latest book was Ten Restaurants That Changed America (Liveright/Norton, 2016).

Maps and directions to SMU.