New Book Celebrates Marriage of American Food and Beer From Colonial Times to Present

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Tired of chi-chi food recipes using European beers and foodstuffs, Chicago author returns to Beer-Basted American Cuisine.

Nationally recognized beer and brewing expert, Bob Skilnik, wonders whatever happened to the simpler times of beer-soaked bratwurst, pot roast with a rich brown beer gravy, or the simple pairing of Wisconsin cheese with American beer? His upcoming book, BEER and FOOD: An American History (Jefferson Press, hardcover, fall release, $24.95), documents the parallel evolution of the United States brewing industry and its beers as they shaped American cookery from colonial times through Prohibition, to its continuing influence in today’s modern kitchens.

"At this point in our culinary experiences, there are few new food recipes," argues Skilnik. "Most have evolved from earlier dishes. Much is made today by beer and food writers, for instance, about the pairing of oysters with stout. Brewer Matthew Vassar was responsible for introducing oysters to the beer drinkers of Poughkeepsie, NY back in 1811. Chicago saloonkeepers passed out heated oysters with their nickel beers back in the 1880s. Today it's very chic to pair hard-to-find European beers with Swiss chocolates or French cheeses that cost $40 per pound. I say it's time to turn back the clock to food recipes that celebrate American foods and beers. After all, what's a beef carbonade? Nothing more than an American beef stew made by a Belgian," says Skilnik somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

BEER and FOOD: An American History, stands as an enthralling piece of historical non-fiction with its widely-unknown narrative about the birth and rise of our national brewing industry and the evolution of its beers, and the resulting changes in the preparation of both familiar and esoteric dishes using beer. Whether it’s beer-boiled brats, or rich brownies washed down with a creamy stout, Skilnik uncovers the origins and history behind scores of beer-related foods in his own descriptive, polished style.

Skilnik is hoping that American breweries and cooks will also step forward and help him in putting together a final chapter that reflects combinations of old-styled brews with regional American food dishes---one playing off the other...Wisconsin beer and brats, or an old ale and Boston Baked Beans, for instance.

"I've found a lot of enthusiasm from small and big American breweries to the book's concept, but the more recipes that celebrate American food and beer, the better. The manuscript, however, must be in by the end of June, so times getting shorter if anyone else would like to contribute."

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Robert F Skilnik

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