Eight Flavors Book Club Discussion Questions!

If Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine is on your summer reading list, then here are some very official discussion questions to help you along!

 

  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?
  2. 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?

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

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

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

  6. 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”?

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

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

  9. 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?

  10. 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?

  11. 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?

5 Responses to “Eight Flavors Book Club Discussion Questions!”


  • I WISH I had a book club that read stuff like this. But coincidentally I did move it up in my queue and this will become my vacation reading in a few weeks; looking forward to it. Any chance of an audiobook version ever coming out?

  • I loved the book. I’m an enthusiastic historical gastronomist and will be presenting this at our salon for the parched in Palm Springs for our July salon. Of course there are loads of flavors, but Sarah has codified them through the CDC and sets forth her methodology. It was wonderfully written and insightful. I loved the back stories and all the trivia that makes history fascinating.

    Sarah, I do believe you may have been our tour guide at the Tenement Museum a couple years ago. Kudos.

    All my best,
    Kurt

  • Acquired _8 Flavors_ at your talk at the Tenement Museum in December, and had you autograph it for Christmas present (was almost last in line, your hand was getting tired ;-) )

    One of the recipients reviewed it in her blog
    http://cathyshistoricfood.blogspot.com/2017/06/eight-flavors-of-what.html

    Oneovdezedaze you can argue it all out over lunch…

    Best wishes, John

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