How What We Eat Defines Who We Are
William Morrow 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FoodNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books in PsychologyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network July 24, 2017 Lori A. Flores
In Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are (William Morrow Books, 2017), food writer and Culinary Institute of America program director Sophie Egan takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the American food psyche, examining the connections between the values that define our national character—work, freedom, and progress—and our eating habits, the good and the bad. Egan explores why these values make for such an unstable, and often unhealthy, food culture and, paradoxically, why they also make Americas cuisine so great.
Egan raises a host of intriguing questions: Why does McDonalds have 107 items on its menu? Why are breakfast sandwiches, protein bars, and gluten-free anything so popular? Will bland, soulless meal replacements like Soylent revolutionize our definition of a meal? The search for answers takes her across the culinary landscape, from the prioritization of convenience over health to the unintended consequences of perks like free meals for employees; from the American obsession with having it our way to the surge of Starbucks, Chipotle, and other chains individualizing the eating experience; from high culture—artisan and organic and what exactly “natural” means—to low culture—the sale of 100 million Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos in ten weeks. She also looks at how America’s cuisine—like the nation itself—has been shaped by diverse influences from across the globe.
Devoured weaves together insights from the fields of psychology, anthropology, food science, and behavioral economics as well as myriad examples from daily life to create a powerful and unique look at food in America.
Sophie Egan is the director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America. Holding degrees from Stanford and UC Berkeley, she has written for Sunset magazine and was named one of the UC Global Food Initiative’s 30 Under 30. Her writing has been published in WIRED, Bon Appetit, Time, The Wall Street Journal, KQED, and The New York Times Well blog. She is based in San Francisco.
Lori A. Flores is Associate Professor of History at Stony Brook University (SUNY) and the author of Grounds for Dreaming: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement (Yale, 2016). She is based in Brooklyn.