Book

You can buy Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine direct from the publisher, on AmazonBarnes and Nobleindie bookstores–or anywhere else books are sold! Buy it in HardcoverPaperbackE-book, and Audio Book.

Book club discussion questions can be found here!

“Very cool…a breezy American culinary history that you didn’t know you wanted.” (Bon Appetit)

The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population that makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha.

In “a unique and surprising view of American history…richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written” (The Atlantic), Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

She begins in the archives, searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. She pores over cookbooks and manuscripts, dating back to the eighteenth century, through modern standards like How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Lohman discovers when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens—then she asks why.

“A fresh, original perspective to American culinary history” (The Christian Science Monitor), Eight Flavors takes you on a journey through the past to tell us something about our present, and our future.

We meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. And Edmond Albius, a twelve-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, who discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Weaving together original research, historical recipes, gorgeous illustrations, and Lohman’s own adventures both in the kitchen and in the field, Eight Flavors is a delicious treat—which “may make you hungry” (Bustle).

Press, Reviews and Media Highlights

Reviews:

Dishing It Out: Why Americans Eat the Way We Do
by Corby Kummer
New York Times, Jan. 6, 2017
“[Lohman’s] enthusiastic charm and what you sense is genuine Midwestern niceness shine through. She’s also impressively plucky, traveling, for example, to a remote Mexican vanilla plantation. … Lohman is assiduous in tracking down early recipes and describing cooking techniques. She also gets to show off her scientific fluency (she comes from a family of scientists).”

How American Cuisine Became a Melting Pot
The Atlantic, Nov. 23, 2016
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, a new book by Sarah Lohman that unpacks the diverse history of a nation’s palate via eight distinct ingredients. … But almost more fascinating than the countless odd facts Lohman reveals … are the people whose work had a profound impact on the way Americans eat, but whose biographies have been almost completely forgotten.”

‘Eight Flavors’ is Part Travelogue, Part History, and Part Recipe Book
Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 5, 2016
“Lohman’s attention to detail is meticulous, and she presents more than a few intriguing facts about the history and culture of food.”

Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman
Bustle, Dec.1, 2016
“Warning: this book may make you hungry.”

Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine
Publisher’s Weekly, starred review, Oct. 31, 2016
“Lohman’s thoughtful, conversational style and infectious curiosity make the book wholly delightful.”

What’s Eating New York? The secrets of a culinary powerhouse
Financial Times, Dec. 9, 2016
“It is a nifty idea, cleverly executed and well written – the kind of book that makes the reader annoy her family by constantly exclaiming, “Gosh! Did you know…?”

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
Washington Independent Review of Books, Jan. 24, 2017
“A playful, erudite guide to our culinary evolution.”

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
Kirkus Book Review, December 2016
“A tasty historical study of flavorful mainstays of American cuisine.”

Interviews and Multi-Media:

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
with Audie Cornish
Radio Interview
NPR, All Things Considered, Dec. 15, 2016

‘Eight Flavors’ is a Tasty History of American Cuisine
Interview
USA Today, Dec. 12, 2016

Kebabs are the next hamburgers: how war and immigration predict what we eat
Interview
Washington Post, Dec. 7, 2016

Devouring (and Drinking) American History
by Corey Kilgannon
Profile
New York Times, Nov. 16, 2016

WTF is MSG?
Video
Extra Crispy
July 18, 2017

The Chili Powder Cheat: A Tex-Mex Story
Gravy Podcast
March 23, 2017

Demystifying MSG
Live Video
Eater
March 21, 2017

Uncovering the ‘Eight Flavors’ Of Modern American Culture
Radio Interview
On Point WBUR/WNYC/NPR
Dec. 27, 2016

The Spice Curve: From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman
Gastropod Podcast
Nov. 29, 2016