Tag Archives: How America Eats

Anthony Bourdain & Clementine Paddleford Chronicled How People Ate

*Disclaimer – Photo of Anthony Bourdain is from Google Images*

I was saddened to hear about the death of food writer Anthony Bourdain.  I enjoyed watching his television show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts UnknownHe traveled to places many didn’t go and he took his television viewers along on the trip.  Bourdain visited with the locals and ate local food.

This is the same thing Clementine Paddleford did, except she never had a television show.

Both Bourdain and Paddleford traveled where they wanted to go, talked to whomever they wanted to talk to, and tasted the food they wanted to eat, then they shared the stories with viewers and readers.

Anthony Bourdain attended the Culinary Institute of American, became a chef, and a food writer.  Clementine Paddleford had a degree in journalism.  She never attended a culinary school, was never a chef, but she was a well-known food writer.

Sadly, Anthony Bourdain committed suicide and it was rumored that Clementine Paddleford tried, but failed.  Let me say, there is no proof that Paddleford tried to commit suicide and family members said it was strictly a rumor.

What made Bourdain and Paddleford well-known?

They chronicled how people ate.










While I am pretty sure that someone is already thinking about or in the process of writing Anthony Bourdain’s biography, a biography of Clementine Paddleford has been written.  It is titled Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (NY: Gotham), 2008.


Excerpt: From Chapter 2

“In the late summer of 1921, Warren G. Harding was in the White House, Allied forces occupied the Rhineland, the U. S. Congress had just passed a quota on immigration, and Adolf Hitler became head of the Nazi Party.  On the heels of World War I, isolationism was in and multiculturalism wasn’t even on the horizon.  For Clementine Paddleford, newly arrived in New York City and the proud renter of a room in a boarding house at 520 West 122nd Street, on Morningside Heights north of Columbia University, this meant facing one of Manhattan’s challenges and figuring out how to conquer it: the subway.

“There she was, in homemade outfits Jennie had lovingly stitched from patterns Paddleford had picked, summer-weight wool suits, blouses with big bows at the neck, a tote bag at her side loaded with pencils and pads, the picture of a career gal of the day, and a greenhorn at that.  At her first act of independence in the city, Paddleford enrolled in graduate-level-journalism courses at New York University, despite her proximity to Columbia.  These met three evenings a week and required a long subway trip.”


Both How America Eats and Hometown Appetites are filled with recipes.  One of my favorite summer beverages is from these books: Plumade.


6 small black plums, washed, pitted, and quartered

9 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

2, 2-inch cinnamon sticks

1 lemon rind, grated

3 lemons, juiced

3 oranges, juiced

In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, stew plums in water until very soft and the liquid is a deep rose color, about 15 minutes.  Strain juice, return to pot and add to it the sugar and cinnamon.  Heat gently until sugar is dissolved, two to three minutes.  Add grated lemon rind and cook three more minutes.  Strain again.  Stir in lemon and orange juice and serve in tall glasses with chipped ice.

Yields: 10 to 12 servings.


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Having a tracheal tube never stopped her…

Recently, I presented at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Topeka, Kansas, on Clementine Paddleford.

At the end of the presentation, I answered questions.  Most of the questions I have been asked before.  But, one question got me to thinking…”Why don’t you focus more on the fact that Paddleford had a tracheal tube and how hard it must have been for her to do her job with it?”

I do mention in my presentation that Paddleford had throat cancer and elected for a partial surgery so that she could continue to talk with a tracheal tube.  I also talk about how hard of time she had re-learning to talk and getting used to the tube.  It took her a year with many trips back and forth to the hospital and dealing with pain.  The tube was held in place with a velvet ribbon.

Paddleford, herself, stated that because of the raspy whisper of her voice caused by the tracheal tube “people remember me.”  She also said that the only things she couldn’t do, that she liked to do, was to play tennis and go swimming.  Because of the tracheal tube she could not go on lecture circuit, the radio, or television.  These are some reasons, she is largely forgotten about today.  Otherwise, the tracheal tube never got in her way of doing what she loved: being a journalist-food writer.  Paddleford traveled wherever she wanted to go, interviewed whomever she wanted to interview, wrote about them, turned in her receipts, and got paid.

So, who is Clementine Paddleford?  She is the best known food editor, you never heard of.

December 28, 1953, Time Magazine declared Clementine Paddleford, “the best known food editor in the U. S.”

Here is the program from the Wilder Society Tea where I presented.  They put together this booklet because they wanted to share the recipes of the food served at the tea with those in attendance.  Recipes are from Paddleford’s 1960 book How America Eats.

Note, if you decide to make these recipes, remember they are from 1948 to 1960, and they are not as sweet as desserts are today.  So, if you are looking to cut back on sugar, but still want a dessert, use one of the recipes below.











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My C-Span Interview

On April 6, 2015, I was interviewed by C-Span for their “Cities Tour Topeka.”  This was aired on Sunday, May 3, 2015.

You can watch the interview here:



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Wow! A huge LinkedIn Surprise…THANK YOU

I received a letter from LinkedIn this morning stating that “I have one of the top 10% most viewed @LinkedIn profiles for 2012.”

WOW!  That was a huge surprise.

Could it be my name “Cynthia Harris?”  I know that there are many people with the same name, so I must share this with them.

Today, I want to thank everyone who viewed my profile that sent me into the top 10% of the most viewed profiles on LinkedIn.    I wouldn’t be in this spot without you!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

As a special “Thank You”  I want to offer you a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of my book Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicles How America Ate or a Kindle copy – your choice.

For a chance to win do one of the following:

  • Tweet about this blog
  • Share this blog with your friends and family on your Facebook Page

After you do one (1) of the above, come back and put the link to your “share” the comment section.  By doing this I can verify that you actually shared the information.

Because it takes a few days for people to read through all their blog posts and because many, like me, read the blogs on the weekends, the offer for a chance to win a copy of my book will go until 5 p.m. Central Time, Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

Once again, thank you everyone!







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Clementine Paddleford Online Exhibit

I hope you enjoy this Clementine Paddleford online exhibit.

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Paddleford Photos

Jennie, Glenn, Clementine, Solon Paddleford

Clementine with her dolls

Clementine as either a teenager or at college, Manhattan, KS

Clementine, 1930s – she had an operation for throat cancer in 1931

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Paddleford visiting Ouida Hill in Hawaii

James Beard wrote that Clementine Paddleford was “the getting-aroundest person he ever knew besides Eleanor Roosevelt.”

The Prologue to Hometown Appetites is titled “The Getting-Aroundest Person.”  Here we find Clementine Paddleford heading to Hawaii to interview Ouida Hill.

Here is a part of the prologue:

“With their cool, custard-like texture, almost like ice cream, but not quite, the bananas sent her yellow pencil flying. “You can’t believe your tongue!”  Paddleford scribbled in her notebook.  She knew these beauties would do for any sort of party, anywhere.  Mrs. Hill was taken aback: The dessert was an off-hand concoction, a dish she had made so often and with such lack of forethought that she was shocked the great food writer was interested.  It was just a dessert of her own invention, she explained to Paddleford, something she thought of long ago and far away from the island paradise.  Paddleford persisted and learned another secret.”


Ouida Hill’s Frozen Bananas

5 ripe bananas

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste

Peel bananas.  Wrap each in waxed paper, twirling both ends to create a tight seal.  Place in freezer until very firm, overnight or at least 3 to 4 hours.

Chill 6 wide-mouthed dessert glasses or shallow bowls in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Remove glasses from freezer and pour 1 tablespoon of the cream into each.  Unwrapping the bananas one by one, slice half of them 1/4 inch thick, distributing the slices evenly among the glasses.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over the bananas in each glass.  Then drizzle 1 tablespoon of cream atop the sugared bananas.  Slice and divide remaining bananas among the glasses and repeat the process, sprinkling each serving with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and then topping with additional 1 tablespoon of the cream.  Serve immediately.   Yield: 6 servings.

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Colman Andrews wrote the Foreword for Hometown Appetites

Colman Andrews wrote the foreword to the book I co-wrote, Hometown Appetites, The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate (NY: Gotham), 2008.

This is the last paragraph from the foreword:

“On the evidence of How America Eats alone-never mind the hundreds of thousands of words she wrote in her other books and in magazine and newspaper articles never collected between hard covers – Clementine Paddleford patently cared about our nation’s culinary heritage and realized that if it wasn’t documented and publically appreciated, it might well disappear.  This is an almost trendy sentiment today, but it was a rare thing in mid-twentieth-century America.  She probably would have laughed to hear herself described as a sociologist or anthropologist, but those are in part what she was.  More to the point, she was also an engaging writer who knew good food when she had it, and dedicated her career to helping us know it too.”

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Foreword from How America Eats by Clementine Paddleford

This book has been twelve years in the writing.  It was in January 1948 I started criss-crossing the United States as roving Food Editor for This Week Magazine – my assignment, tell “How America Eats.”  I have traveled by train, plane, automobile, by mule back, on foot – in all over 800,000 miles.

I have ranged from the lobster pots of Main to the vineyards of California, from the sugar shanties of Vermont to the salmon canneries in Alaska.  I have collected these recipes from a wide variety of kitchens: farm kitchens, apartment kitchenettes, governors’ mansions, hamburger diners, tea rooms and from the finest restaurants with great chefs in charge.  I have eaten with crews on fishing boats and enjoyed slum gullion at the Hobo Convention.

I have eaten many regional specialties I had never eaten before – cioppino on Fisherman’ Wharf in San Francisco, Alaskan King Crab of the North Pacific in Seattle, mango ice cream in Tampa, chawed on cuts of fresh sugar cane in Louisiana, eaten roasted young goat in San Antonio, and roasted fresh truffles flown in from Italy at the Four Seasons in New York City.

Continue reading

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Learn about Clementine Paddleford, starting tomorrow!

Tomorrow I will begin the Kick-Off Celebration to the 4th Anniversary of Hometown Appetites.

I hope that you will check back each day to learn something new about Clementine Paddleford, the best known food editor you never heard of.

The celebration will run from September 18 – 27, 2012.

There will be photos, recipes, and more.

Come on! Let’s celebrate!

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