cover image Kansas City: A Food Biography

Kansas City: A Food Biography

Andrea L. Broomfield. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (238p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3288-4

Kansas City, Mo., home to Charlie Parker and the strains of modern jazz, also rests at the culinary crossroads of America, as culinary historian Broomfield observes in this straightforward survey, part of the Big City Food Biography series. The city is located in the fertile Central Plain, where the soil is ideal for cultivating grain and producing fields of grass where cattle can graze. Broomfield’s tale of the life of food in the region begins with the earliest contributions of native tribes such as the Kaw, and their cultivation of maize and squash. Prior to the Civil War, Kansas City’s food reflected the cuisine of the South, including beaten biscuits, pies, gumbos, fried chicken, and catfish. In the 19th century, a number of immigrant groups helped shape the city’s cuisine with Mexican tamales and chilis, German beer, Swiss confections, and Italian minestrone and pastas. Broomfield offers a brief history of many of the markets and groceries that helped establish Kansas City as a center of culinary hospitality, such as the E. Whyte Grocery, Fruit & Wine Company; Wolferman’s Grocery; and the City Market. Broomfield’s guidebook also includes an overview of Kansas City’s signature dishes (with recipes), such as Myron Green’s cinnamon rolls and Harvey’s Westport Room Chicken Maciel. Readers will enjoy this entertaining, in-depth look at the foods that have made Kansas City famous. (Feb.)