Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate

Biographies & Memoirs, Cooking, Food & Wine, Travel

By Cynthia Harris

Publisher : Gotham Books, New York

Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate

ABOUT Cynthia Harris

Cynthia Harris
I am co-author of HometownAppetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate, Gotham Books, 2008.  The book made the 2009 Kansas Notable Book List and won the 2010 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award.  


An engaging and lively biography, Clementine Paddleford, a true original, invented the genre of culinary chronicles in her weekly column "How America Eats," in This Week  magazine, Sunday supplement in the major newspapers in the United States.  She also wrote six days a week for the New York Herald Tribune.

Paddleford (1898-1967) grew up in Kansas, earned a journalism degree from Kansas State University in 1921, and graduation moved to New York to begin her career as a writer.

By the time Paddleford arrived at the Tribune, in 1936, she had battled throat cancer and had built her reputation as a writer and had learned how to build her network of sources.

Paddleford's legacy is the connection she made between real food, real cooking and the traditions, family histories, and ethnic background of real people sitting down to home-cooked meals at the American tables.

For Cynthia Harris, Clementine Paddleford was her job. Paddleford bequeathed her papers to her alma mater, Kansas State University upon her death in 1967. The papers arrived at the university in 1968 and for all practical purposes remained in storage until Cynthia Harris was hired in 2001 to process the papers and make them available to researchers. It took Harris 3 1/2 years, through blood, sweat, and toil to save the fragile papers. In the process of working on the papers, Harris became very close to the Paddleford family and, although she was not alive, Paddleford herself. Harris found Paddleford to be a character that everyone in the food writing and cooking world should know. Kelly Alexander was introduced to Paddleford when her husband took a trip to Boston and purchased a used orange covered cookbook for her. A food writer herself, Alexander wasn't exactly pleased with a cookbook as a gift. As the holidays rolled around in 2001, Alexander remembered the cookbook and upon opening it and reading the Introduction, she was hooked and knew she needed to find out more about this individual. Alexander contacted the Kansas State University archives, visited in February 2002, and wrote a James Beard award winning article for Saveur magazine in November 2002. The rest we say was meant to be and is history. For the past 10 years, Harris and Alexander has lived and breathed "Clementine Paddleford."

Benjamin Schmerler of the NY Post, Sep 14, 2008, stated "If the food writer Clementine Paddleford were alive today, she would have at least two Food Network shows (one devoted to cooking, a second to travel), a weekly newspaper column, a cookbook series and, of course, a blog.  Or so it is easy to imagine by reading Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris's smartly drawn, surprisingly uplifting biography "Hometown Appetites."

Andrea Thompson, New Yorker, Sep 19, 2008 stated, "Clementine Paddleford, food editor of the New York Herald Tribune and columnist for This Week magazine, was a peripatetic grazer, taking in regional specialties and disseminating them to her legions of readers.  Eclipsed in later years by Julia Child and M. F. K. Fisher, she's given warm treatment in a new biography by Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris, "Hometown Appetites."