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Book recalls famed '50s food writer

Julia Child. James Beard. Clementine Paddleford.

Child and Beard are well known in the culinary world. Less well-known is Paddleford, the Kansas native with the unusual name and flamboyant personality who became a prolific food writer.

A new book details the life of Paddleford, who chronicled what Americans cooked and ate. "Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate” (Gotham Books, $27.50), was written by Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris. Alexander had written a story about Paddleford for Saveur magazine and won a James Beard Foundation Award for the story. Harris is the leading authority on Paddleford’s archives at Kansas State University.

Paddleford, who studied industrial journalism, not only worked on her college newspaper in her junior year but wrote for the local newspaper and was a stringer for several Kansas newspapers. After graduation, her wanderlust took her to New York City, where she wrote as a freelancer and filed stories for several Kansas newspapers.

After moving to Chicago, she wrote for several agricultural publications. Eventually she returned to New York to hold prestigious jobs at Farm & Fireside (later Country Home), New York Herald Tribune, Gourmet magazine and the Sunday supplement magazine This Week.

Paddleford traveled more than 800,000 miles in 12 years, writing for multiple publications. In 1953, Time magazine called Paddleford the country’s best known food editor. Yet the woman who’d battled cancer in her 30s and had to talk through a tube found her exposure limited as the television age dawned in the 1950s.

Travel and food writer Duncan Hines, while in Oklahoma City, acquired her Black Bottom Pie recipe, which was included in Paddleford’s 1960 book, "How America Eats.”