Wilton looks at America’s ‘flavorful’ history

WILTON — Just as American society has changed over the centuries, so has its cuisine and its favored flavors.

Wilton Historical Society’s Booked for Lunch group, which focuses on history-related titles, will explore that with author Sarah Lohman who has written “Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine.”

Lohman is a culinary historian who writes that American food is united by eight flavors — black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and sriracha — and how these ingredients made their way to American tables.

She began her journey searching through economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records. Studying cookbooks and manuscripts, from the 18th century to today, she discovered when each of these eight flavors first appear in American kitchens.

More than a mere recounting of events, Lohman introduces readers to characters who helped advance a young nation’s culinary culture.

Readers meet John Crowninshield a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. Edmond Albius, a 12-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar, discovered how to pollinate vanilla orchids today.

Lohman’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as on All Things Considered; and she has presented across the country, from the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., to The Culinary Historians of Southern California.

Her current project, “Endangered Eating: Exploring America’s Vanishing Cuisine,” will be released with W.W. Norton & Co. in 2021.

There is a suggested contribution for the Zoom meeting of $10. Registration is essential by emailing info@wiltonhistorical.org or calling 203- 762-7257.