Cooking in a developing America

There’s a nice illustration of the ups and downs, but mostly ups, of economic development in the introductory paragraph to Alice McLean’s Cooking in America, 1840–1945:

This cookbook covers the years 1840 through 1945, a time during which American cookery underwent a full-scale revolution. Gas and electric stoves replaced hearth cookery. The time of year and location became decreasingly connected to the ingredients used in home cooking; canned, bottled, and eventually frozen products flooded the market, and trains began to transport produce and meat from one end of the country to the other. During two World Wars and the Great Depression women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers, and household servants abandoned low-paying domestic jobs to work in factories. As a result of these monumental changes, American home cooking became irrevocably simplified, and cookery skills geared more toward juggling time to comb grocery store shelves for the best and most economical products than toward butchering and preserving an entire animal carcass or pickling fruits and vegetables.

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