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 But the cooks who originally made American tastebuds salivate at the thought of a good stir-fry or a curry are hardly household names, even though their impact on our cuisine lingers.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.
Go beyond the episode:
- Mayukh Sen’s Taste Makers
- Read excerpts from the book in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Mother Jones
- Nora Ephron’s tart assessment of “The Food Establishment,” a 1968 essay with a killer subtitle
- Scholar editors pick our favorite food writing (and our favorite feasts)
- Smarty Pants also loves food: imagining dinner tables after the climate crisis, the real James Beard, coffee
- In case you missed the great food drama of 2020, here’s a rundown on Alison Roman’s remarks, the Bon Appetit backlash, the scandal at the Los Angeles Times
- Sen’s independent food media recommendations: Whetstone, Vittles, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.
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