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American Gourmet

Famous as they are for reveling in tacky taste, you might not expect the authors of Square Meals and Roadfood to champion the gourmet aspirations of America’s recent past. But now that no one who might rate as a gourmet would use the word without a disclaiming smirk, the movement is ripe for the Sterns’ seal of contrary approval. As they have it in this entertaining chronicle, the gourmets who blossomed just after World War II were seekers after the good life glimpsed on European trips and in cookbooks promising cosmopolitan polish. Their recipes in American Gourmet include some showy flambés and several instant atrocities achieved with canned fried onions. But then you don’t look to the Sterns for the pristine or the rigorous. B

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