Changing How America Eats

Mayukh Sen on seven immigrant cookbook writers


It’s hard to imagine an American city without a Chinese restaurant, a pizza parlor or three, and at least one taco joint. But the cooks who originally made American tastebuds salivate at the thought of a good stir-fry or a curry are hardly household names, even though their impact on our cuisine lingers. Mayukh Sen’s new book, Taste Makers, chronicles seven immigrant women, each from a different country, who transformed American cookery but have since faded from memory: Chao Yang Buwei (China), Elena Zelayeta (Mexico), Madeleine Kamman (France), Marcella Hazan (Italy), Julie Sahni (India), Najmieh Batmanglij (Iran), and Norma Shirley (Jamaica). He joins us on Smarty Pants to talk about why these women mattered, and why they have been unjustly forgotten.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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