Gay identity has long been openly linked to the decorative and performing arts — fashion, interior design, dance, opera, and theater. Daniel Isengart aims to add the culinary arts to the list. Even though gay men widely populate America’s food industries, their role and impact remain firmly in the closet. Queering The Kitchen makes a case for a grand, industry-wide coming-out. Gay men’s history of culinary sophistication dates back to a time when socializing was safer behind closed doors — at home, the only place where they could be themselves and let their hair down, or wear that wig. Isengart explores these hidden histories and customs, while reminding us of gay lives only recently in the light — including Dean & Deluca, James Beard, Craig Claiborne and many others. With the rise of gay identity, Isengart charts a concurrent counter - swing with the rise of Emeril Live and other media phenomena, erasing a movement of culinary refinement and replacing it with a lowbrow circus for beginners. Sometimes brutal, other times nuanced, the history charted by Isengart extends to the macho bro-kitchens of Anthony Bourdain and the superior skills of many lesbian chefs. With Queering The Kitchen, Isengart offers a spirited and well-researched contribution to an ongoing conversation about gay men and America’s food.
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