Profs and Pints Northern Virginia presents: “How America Ate—a History,” a feast of fascinating insights on how and why our nation's cuisine and eating habits have changed over time, with Allen Pietrobon, assistant professor of history at Trinity Washington University.
Come to Sterling's Crooked Run Fermentation for a journey through time to explore the culinary history of the United States. You'll learn from award-winning Professor Allen Pietrobon how what Americans ate over the centuries reflected the influence of immigration, economic trends, political influences, religion, gender, race, culture, government policy, and debates over national identity. We’ll tackle the puzzle of how the United States went from being revered for having one of the best food cultures in the world to today being (however unfairly) the subject of international ridicule for a food culture dominated by junk foods, fast foods, and processed frozen meals.
We’ll start back in the 1600s, focusing on the European settler's understanding (or lack thereof) of Native American food systems. From there we’ll examine how the mass immigration in the 1800s changed American cuisine despite anti-immigrant opposition to spaghetti and other dishes now common on our plates.
We’ll book a table at one of the world-famous American restaurants of the 1890s, to see what was on the table and deemed so delicious that for the next decade or so wealthy Europeans would board ships to our nation for vacations focused entirely on enjoying its splendid food offerings. Next up, will be a look at American eating habits in the 1920s, and how increased urbanization and the advent of widespread electricity changed how Americans cooked.
We’ll learn how World War II forever changed American food preparation and consumption and push a wonky-wheeled shopping cart through the 1950s, regarded as the “dark ages” of American cuisine, when cavernous supermarkets peddled frozen TV dinners and Jell-o salads. From there, we'll examine how the 1970s saw the country flooded with far more fast food and junk foods as the unintended consequence of government policies responding to the racial reckoning of the 1960s and inflation of the 1970s.
We’ll sample the buffet of all these issues and turning points in American food history to see how the United States ended up with the food culture in which we all live today. You’ll savor every bit of this talk. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Thanksgiving dinner at the house of Earle Landis of Neffsville, Pennsylvania, in 1942. Photo by Marjory Collins. (Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons.)