The Gilded Age and the Open Door Policy: The United States in 1899

In the cookbook, The American Salad Book by Maximilian DeLoup, there is an obvious nationalistic and triumphant tone of the United States and American culinary cuisine, As seen in the first page of the cook, DeLoup announces “By far the best recipes are those that have originated in the United States and, almost without exception, they are alike inexpensive, elegant and healthy” (DeLoup 5). DeLoup is putting the United States on a pedestal, and this is due to the country’s international standing at the time. In the year 1899, the Spanish-American War had ended and, due to the contents of the treaty, the United States was given the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico as spoils of the war. The United States had improved its political power by gaining territories, but during this time the United States made great leaps in infrastructure and discovered many natural resources. While the Gilded Age exploited many resources and individuals, it was an approach that, while negatively, improved the United States economic and social standing.  

Another essential historical fact that occurred during 1899 was the Open-Door Policy. This American foreign policy basically stated that all countries stated in the policy, especially the United States, would be able to have access to all Chinese trade ports and manage trade in China. This exploitative policy also assisted the United States in becoming wealthier and increased its control in Asia, reinforcing its position as a world power. Due to the United States’ ownership of countries like Puerto Rico and its attraction of individuals of all races and ethnicities, there is an exposure to a variety of cultural cuisines, they did not get the forefront in this cookbook, and probably others as well. In The American Salad Book, there is a section titled, “Miscellaneous Salads” which includes recipes like German salad, Russian salad, Dutch Salad, Japanese salad, Italian salad, Spanish salad, etc. The prideful; tone that this cookbook which highlights American excellence and the purposeful decision to put cultural salad recipes, except for French cuisine, which was internationally renowned, in a section named “Miscellaneous Salads” reveals the impacts that the time period on one’s perspectives. The lack of discourse surrounding cultural cuisine and the nationalistic views towards the United States could have an influence on the history of food and cooking in the United States. 

“The Gilded Age.” Scholastic, age.  

“Open Door Policy”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 February 2020,

De Loup, Maximilliam. The American Salad Book. G. R. Knapp, 1899.   

3 thoughts on “The Gilded Age and the Open Door Policy: The United States in 1899”

  1. This topic is so interesting! I never knew that so much history could be derived from cookbooks! I love how you connected the obvious pride in “American” dishes to nationalism and the Open Door Policy. The “Miscellaneous” section astonished me. I think that the application of power to cooking is so fascinating because why would a chef care so much about international politics? The encapsulation of world affairs in the individual could be something really interesting to explore, or at least to keep in mind while you explore its encapsulation within cooking. For me, this blog post really broke into the intersection of cooking and the world beyond. Perhaps it would serve as a good model for the introduction to your thesis.

  2. DoubleDoubleToilandTrouble,

    This was a fascinating read! It makes so much sense to me how a cookbook could be used to create the sense of nationalism that you described. In contrast to nationalism, I was thinking about how food, and cookbooks, are an amazing medium to encourage the globalization of ideas and cultures. More often than not, especially in the US, restaurants have many different types of foods and recipes on their menus. Restaurants are a sort of microcosm for touching a little piece of someone else culture. It is a type of art, I would say.

  3. Avani, I am so interested in your research on cookbooks! It was fascinating to hear about how this large-scale political context during the Gilded Age had an impact on the culture surrounding food. In such a time of American excessiveness and luxury, I like how you brought up that this stemmed from the U.S. reaping the benefits of war, colonialism, and natural resource extraction. This is such a contrast to the image of the Gilded Age I have in my head. It is interesting to think about how this political violence somehow ended up in increasing American culinary clout as well, in a way that feels almost like cultural appropriation. It reminded me of our discussion last week in class about American appropriation of ethnic foods for profit and “consuming” not just another ethnicity’s food, but culture as well.

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