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Calling All Foodies: This Book Will Make You Smarter—and Hungry

The Wu-Tang Clan might maintain that “Cash rules everything around me” but—in our humble opinion—it’s food, not money that runs the world.

And yet, as much as we love eating and cooking and talking about eating and cooking, we know shockingly little about food’s history.

That was until we picked up Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, an illuminating book by historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman, who works with institutions like The American Museum of Natural History, The Institute for Culinary Education and the Boston Museum of Science to create public programs focused on food.

Though it’s technically a culinary history, Eight Flavors reads nothing like a textbook. (So, it’s not boring at all.) Here, Lohman introduces the idea that American cuisine is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha. Researching economic, scientific, political and religious records dating back to the 18th century, she pieces together how these flavors made their way to our dinner tables and what the future has in store for our palates.

Through original research, historical recipes, funny observations and pretty illustrations, Eight Flavors introduces readers to interesting (and dinner-party ready) factoids. For example, did you know that although its creator is Vietnamese, Sriracha was actually invented in Irwindale, California? 

Perfect for gastronomes or anyone looking to crush at Jeopardy!, Eight Flavors is a delight to read—assuming you do so with a snack in hand.

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