It was about two years ago that I began my love for great food writing. It started with Julie Powell, then led to Ruth Reichl, M.F.K. Fisher, Anthony Bourdain and so on. The list of food writing talent out in the world today is truly endless. I've always enjoyed great writing, and that combined with the ability to take something as simple as food and transform it into an entertaining piece of prose that relates its most minute details into our everyday lives is so fascinating to me. It's what brought me here, to this page, to this blog, to this life I so wish to achieve.
Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I received an incredibly sincere Christmas gift from my sister and her boyfriend this past holiday. It was a book called Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate. I was ecstatic! Another gastronomic lit book to dive into! But I will totally admit that my immediate thought post excitement of receiving the book was, "Who the heck is Clementine Paddleford??" How could I? An aspiring food writer and lover and eager student of all things culinary not knowing one of the most famed food writers to have ever set pen to paper? For shame! Well, come to find out I wasn't the only one. It seems poor Ms. Paddleford somehow got pushed aside amongst the swarm of up-and-coming food writers to take shape in the U.S. But I for one believe in searching out the forgotten and bringing forth a rebirth...or a comeback. Ms. Paddelford passed away in 1967, but that doesn't mean her spirit and talent she delivered can't still be known and discovered today.
I haven't dove too far into the book thus far, but can provide a recap of what lies ahead in its contents...
Clementine Paddleford is said to be the first food writer who truly captured and defined American cuisine. Her travels took her to just about every imaginable spot across our great USofA. She was a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune and This Week magazine and enjoyed a successful career that spanned from the 1920s to the 1960s. She wrote to an audience that grew to 12 million readers a week, and in 1953, Time magazine named her the country's "Best-Known Food Editor." And my favorite part-or what I'm looking most forward to reading-she is said to have written 'smartly, sassily, and with unerring enthusiasm about the pleasures of regional American food.' Emphasis on the smartly, sassily part.
A quote from Clementine Paddleford from the book:
"I have ranged from the lobster pots of Maine to the vineyards of California, from the sugar shanties of Vermont to the salmon canneries in Alaska. I have eaten with crews on fishing boats and enjoyed slumgullion at a Hobo Convention. [I've]chawed on cuts of fresh sugarcane in Louisiana, and eaten roasted young goat in San Antonio and roasted fresh truffles flown in from Italy at the Four Seasons in New York."
In just that one paragraph you seem to have explored quite a life in food, Ms. Paddleford. I'm salivating and looking forward to diving in, reading and taking in the amazing life you lived.