You don’t need anybody to tell you Chicago is a food city or to extol the virtues of chicken Vesuvio, deep dish pizza, a jibarito, South Side rid tips or a Vienna Beef hot dog (on a poppy seed bun, of course). Perhaps less well known is how Chicago’s cuisine developed, or how the city became the first modern industrial food center, both of which are explored in Chicago: A Food Biography by Daniel R. Block and Howard Rosing. (Chicago Tribune)

A fascinating food history of Chicago, revealing the reasons, many unexpected, why this city’s cuisine is so diverse and rich. An essential read for anyone interested in food and culinary history. (Jennifer McLagan, the author of award winning Bitter:A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes)

An interesting foray into Chicago’s influence on food and food’s influence on Chicago. (Denese Neu, PhD, author of Chicago by the Pint: a Craft Beer History of the Windy City)

Anyone interested in American food history must know a lot about the indispensable heart: Chicago. The nation’s historic food production and commodity distribution center, home to every ethnic food in America, Chicago always has been an innovative culinary center. How this came about is told in Block and Rosing’s well researched and engagingly written work. A complex story very well told, it is the best survey to date. (Bruce Kraig, co-editor, Food City: The Encyclopedia of Chicago Food and Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America)

Chicago: A Food Biography is as much a history of today’s industrial food system as a story of the evolving food culture of Chicago. While Chicago has been a melting pot for today’s food industry, the city has remained a veritable stew of ethnic cuisine. The book is a good read for anyone interested in food and a must read for anyone interested in both food and Chicago. (John E. Ikerd, professor emeritus, University of Missouri Columbia)

Chicago’s food traditions are no less towering than the skyscrapers that define its skyline. Deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs loom large in the culinary landscape, as does the influence of Chicago chefs like Rick Bayless, Grant Achatz, and the late Charlie Trotter. In Chicago: A Food Biography, geographer Daniel R. Block and anthropologist Howard B. Rosing chronicle Chicago’s swift evolution from frontier town to food capital—a path paved by meat and corn, migration, and modern industrialization—and make a strong case for Chicago as the most American of cities. (Meryl Rosofsky, MD, writer and adjunct professor of Food Studies, New York University)


“Just a year after the city was chartered, they were already sending wheat to Buffalo by steam ship.” [17:30]

“We see Chicago really emerge as this place where you have these major manufacturers like Quaker Oats and others who become an icon of Western large scale production of food commodities of household consumption.” [25:35]

–Howard Rosing on A Taste of the Past