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Tastes Like Chicken: a History of America's Favorite Bird. 

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One of Amazon.com's Best Non-Fiction Books, August 2016! Nature Magazine's Best Science Books of the Week! Starred Review in Kirkus! Chicken little is doing big things! 

 

From the domestication of the bird nearly ten thousand years ago to its current status as our go-to meat, the history of this seemingly commonplace bird is anything but ordinary.

How did chicken achieve the culinary ubiquity it enjoys today? It’s hard to imagine, but there was a point in history, not terribly long ago, that individual people each consumed less than ten pounds of chicken per year. Today, those numbers are strikingly different: we consume nearly ten times as much chicken as our great-grandparents did.

Collectively, Americans devour 73.1 million pounds of chicken in a day, which is close to 8.6 billion birds per year. How did chicken rise from near-invisibility to being in seemingly "every pot," as per Herbert Hoover's famous promise?

Emelyn Rude explores this fascinating phenomenon in Tastes Like Chicken. With meticulous research, Rude details the ascendancy of chicken from its humble origins to its centrality on grocery store shelves, in restaurants, and in our kitchens. Tastes Like Chicken takes us on a journey through American history - from antebellum steam trains, where fried chicken is hawked at every stop in the South; to the streets of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, where we revel in the mayhem of Kosher markets; and out to the heartland, where the marvelous contestants in the "Chicken of Tomorrow" contest are on full display. Along the way, Rude reveals startling key point in the chicken's edible history, such as the moment it was first stuffed and roasted by the Romans, why chicken salad once enjoyed a lofty status, and how transforming the chicken into a simple nugget changed dinner time the world over.

In the spirit of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Bee Wilson's Consider the Fork, Tastes Like Chicken is a fascinating, clever, and surprising discourse on one of America’s favorite foods.


Press Coverage of AMERICA'S FAVORITE BIRD (click the logos!)