San Francisco: A Food Biography

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The San Francisco History Center is honored to host author and food historian Erica J. Peters who will present her latest book San Francisco: A Food Biography. Covering two centuries of San Francisco history, Peters provides an in-depth look at the city’s foods and how people’s daily shopping, cooking, and dining practices have changed over time.

“San Francisco has a long history as a restaurant city, and residents have been proud of the region’s produce and seafood since the Gold Rush era,” said Peters. “The city has introduced Americans to many culinary treats, including Crab Louis, Rice-A-Roni, fortune cookies, and the Mission Burrito. Food has always been one of the great aspects of Bay Area life.” As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1915: “In California, the epicureans are not the favored few, but the great democracy.”

Peters is co-founder and director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California and has previously published a history of food in Vietnam, called Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Nineteenth Century. Peters received her bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard (1991) and her doctorate in history from the University of Chicago (2000). She has taught at Stanford University, Santa Clara University, and San Francisco State University. Peters lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is currently co-editing a collection of articles about food in French history.

“For anyone curious about how San Francisco’s foods and restaurants became world-recognized icons of American regional cuisine, this book is a terrific place to begin,” said Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. Sheila Himmel, former restaurant critic for the San Jose Mercury News, noted that “this book overflows with goodies that will surprise and delight.”

A book sale and signing will follow the talk.

Erica J. Peters shares some of her favorite resources in the San Francisco Public Library on What's on the 6th Floor?

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