Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Michael Cunningham

Five American writers write about the cultural history of their favourite comfort food. Far from haute cuisine, these choices are a cake, a snack, and a dish in a box, a hearty homemade dessert and a thick gooey ubiquitous spread. The writers explore with delight and authority how these foods became American, they explain why they continue to be iconic and popular and compare regional preferences. None of these foods are good for the waistline but each is so loved that there is little guilt about indulging in traditional mouthfuls of pure heaven.

Novelist Michael Cunningham, best known for his novel The Hours, wonders why he was so more attached to the macaroni and cheese that came in a box, than his mother's cooking. And he's struck by the promise that this instant food conjured up a space age world of endless leisure. He despairs that this humble dish has become an unrecognisable gourmet food in some restaurants.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Wed 14 May 2014 22:45

The Book that Changed Me

The Book that Changed Me

Five figures from the arts and science introduce books that changed their lives and work.

Download The Essay

The Essay podcast

Download all the episodes from the series and listen at your leisure.

Listen Online First

The Essay Online First

Hear all five episodes of the latest episodes of the Essay before they're broadcast