Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History by William Woys Weaver

Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History
William Woys Weaver
University of California Press (2010)
ISBN 9780520259775
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (10/10)


In the Preface of “Culinary Emphemera” William Woys Weaver says “I have created this book as a literary amuse-bouche.  It offers you morsels of American culinary ephemera that distill the essence of the nation’s foods and foodways in the hope of whetting your appetite for more.”  And, so it has for me.  Just after a few pages into this book I was “seduced by yum-yum” which means I was hooked.

I was particularly interested in the section on Almanacs and Calendars.  It brought back memories of my childhood seeing my parents reading the Almanac and seeing calendars hanging on walls of homes.  I remembered my mother going through a catalog and debating which calendar to order.  Occasionally she would let me choose. The photos in the book brought back memories of calendars offered by local businesses.  How I wish they weren’t thrown out at year’s end.

The photographs of examples are phenomenal and the text explaining history, explanations, methods, and more, is educational.  Weaver includes drinking ephemera, posters, brochures, business cards, labels, match covers, menus, post cards, recipe books, music, valentines, wrappers and much more.

Any ephemera buff would cherish “Culinary Ephemera.”  It is interesting and educational; it would add to any collector’s library.  As well, it would make a wonderful coffee table or bedside book.  Browsing through it will not only take you to the past but give you appreciation of the talent and creative licensure that the artist had.  It’s a wonderful trip down Nostalgia Lane.

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