Dining in America

Archive Report

A Varied Menu

American Cooking: Fine Food to Fast Food

Fine dining, once the province of the rich, has become an obsession for millions of middle-class Americans. Tens of thousands are enrolled in cooking classes, learning everything from how to boil water to how to make Chinese wontons. Culinary schools are flooded with applications. Newspapers have expanded their food sections. Celebrity, once accorded only to well-known television cooks and authors such as James Beard and Julia Child, now accrues to chefs of individual restaurants.

Currently a great debate in the food world concerns the definition of the New American Cuisine. One faction takes a “Roots”-like approach, emphasizing America's culinary heritage, particularly regional cooking. The other faction borrows its style from French nouvelle cuisine, preparing simple, lightly cooked ...

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