Bite by Bite: American History through Feasts, Foods, and Side Dishes (Hardcover)

Bite by Bite: American History through Feasts, Foods, and Side Dishes By Marc Aronson, Paul Freedman, Frederick Douglass Opie, Amanda Palacios, Tatum Willis, David Zheng, Toni D. Chambers (Illustrator) Cover Image
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(Young Adult Non-fiction)


Explore the fascinating history of America as told through the lens of food in this illustrated nonfiction middle grade book that lays out the diverse cultures that have combined to create the rich and delicious tapestry of the American country and cuisine.

As American as apple pie. It’s a familiar saying, yet gumbo and chop suey are also American! What we eat tells us who we are: where we’re from, how we move from place to place, and how we express our cultures and living traditions.

In twelve dishes that take readers from thousands of years ago through today, this book explores the diverse peoples and foodways that make up the United States. From First Salmon Feasts of the Umatilla and Cayuse tribes in the Pacific Northwest to fish fries celebrated by formerly enslaved African Americans, from “red sauce” Italian restaurants popular with young bohemians in the East to Cantonese restaurants enjoyed by rebellious young eaters in the West, this is the true story of the many Americas—laid out bite by bite.

About the Author

Marc Aronson is the acclaimed author of Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert, which earned four starred reviews. He is also the author of Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue and Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado, winner of the ALA’s first Robert F. Sibert Award for nonfiction and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. He has won the LMP award for editing and has a PhD in American history from New York University. Marc is a member of the full-time faculty in the graduate program of the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his wife, Marina Budhos, and sons. You can visit him online at

Paul Freedman is a history professor at Yale University and the author of American Cuisine: And How it Got This WayTen Restaurants that Changed America, and Out of the EastSpices and the Medieval Imagination. He is also the editor of Food: The History of Taste.

Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie is a professor of history and foodways at Babson College, where he teaches courses such as “African American History and Foodways” and “Food and Civil Rights.” The author of Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America, he also hosts a food history blog.

Amanda Palacios has a master’s degree in anthropology with a minor in food studies and a graduate certificate in public health from New Mexico State University. She plans to do work on addressing health issues and food access in the border region.

Tatum Willis is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and descends from the Yakama, Nez Perce, and Oglala Lakota peoples. A graduate of Yale University, she is currently a managing director of Cayuse Mission Solutions, part of the Cayuse family of companies.

David Zheng is an artist and filmmaker. After growing up in China, he immigrated to South Carolina and later attended Yale University. His passion for cooking got him started in food history, and he is especially interested in the history of Chinese cuisine.

Toni D. Chambers (she/her) is an electric lady born and raised in Southern New Haven, Connecticut. She earned her BFA in illustration at the University of Massachusetts. Currently, she is living her best life as an illustrator in Landover, Maryland. Born to Jamaican immigrant parents, Toni has always considered family, culture, and the arts prominent, inspiring forces in her life. She’s always wanted to be an artist, whether as a dancer, actress, or singer. Her passion for reading and storytelling led her to a career as an illustrator.

Praise For…

★ “. . . Aronson and Freedman here set out a cultural anthropology of American cuisine sure to please history buffs and foodies alike. . . . There’s plenty of depth and context in each short chapter to leave readers satisfied, while end-of-chapter asides (dubbed 'Side Dishes') offer palette cleansers that focus mostly on the origins of specific foods.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW

“[This] book . . . represents other American food traditions, including those of European, Native American, and African influence. There’s a great deal of well-organized information here for readers intrigued by the history of food in North America.”

“The text-heavy pages and an ample index will appeal to students researching history or food. Those reading for pleasure will be immersed in the captivating writing . . . A recommended purchase that will find a satisfied audience among tweens and teens researching food or American history.”
School Library Journal

"Rightly calling out the fallacy of regarding apple pie or any other food as quintessentially “American,” the authors have enlisted feedback from a squad of food historians to highlight dishes and cuisines that have earned significant places in this country’s story. . . . readers will come away with a food-forward overview of the “waves of prejudice and progress” that have characterized our multicultural history, not dating from 1492 or 1619 but from thousands of years ago." 
Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9781665935500
ISBN-10: 1665935502
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 176
Language: English