Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor, illustrated by Frank Morrison, 2006

I enjoyed the story of George Crum, who in 1853 invented the potato chip while working as a chef at the prestigious Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs.

Crum was confident of his cooking skills but as a person of color, part African American and part Native American; he faced difficulty finding a position as a chef. Hired by Moon’s Lake House, Crum’s menu soon brought the rich and famous to the restaurant in droves.

He felt great frustration and chafed at the pettiness of wealthy restaurant patrons. After one customer complained about the thickness of some French fries, Crum, in retaliation, sliced the potatoes wafer thin and fried them at a very high heat. The rest is history.

This book works well for kids on many levels. It is a skillfully told story from history. Morrison's illustrations are bright and engaging and evoke the time period. In the dining room of the restaurant, the patrons are white and the waitstaff is black.

Readers will applaud George Crum’s independent spirit and his determination to follow his own path. This story of one of our favorite snack foods is a terrific read to share with students.


Chris Barton said...

I've been looking forward to reading this one, but especially now that I've read Jennifer Armstrong's The American Story, which offers its own take on the Crum tale. How interesting that his story is getting so much attention at once.

Greg Pincus said...

Particularly when you add in The Greatest Potatoes by Penelope Stowell and Sharon Watts.

What are the odds, eh?