“The Golden Age of L.A. Diet Cranks” with Charles Perry
We kick off another year of great culinary history talks with CHSC President Charles Perry and “The Golden Age of L.A. Diet Cranks.”
In 1900, the capital of American health food was Battle Creek, Michigan, where grain was celebrated and the idea of breakfast cereal was born. Within 20 years, the capital had moved to Los Angeles, where avant-garde food gurus catered to Hollywood’s longing for eternal youth. They held contradictory theories for their diet plans, but all agreed on damning grain as about the most dangerous food you can eat.
Take that, Battle Creek! Fruits and vegetables (except for the dangerous ones) should be your whole Food Pyramid! In a way, their regimens celebrated Southern California as the country’s natural health mecca because of our year-round fresh produce and our mild climate (they all tended to prescribe sunbathing—preferably naked—for whatever ailed you).
They had immense influence around here in their day, though most are forgotten now. Journey back with us to the days of fig coffee, dextrinated flour and non-devitalized salt.
About the speaker:
Charles Perry is a well-known food historian. He wrote the chapter on the Middle East for, Food in Time and Place, the American Historical Association’s textbook on food history, has translated four medieval cookbooks from Arabic and is at work on a fifth, which will be published by NYU Press. A great-grandson of Gold Rush pioneers, he has studied California food history and is the president and a co-founder of the Culinary Historians of Southern California.
Free and open to the public.