Tracing culinary customs from the Stone Age to the stovetop range, from the raw to the nuked, this book elucidates the factors and myths shaping Americans' eating habits. The diversity of food habits and rituals is considered from a psychological perspective. Explored are questions such as Why does the working class prefer sweet drinks over bitter? Why do the affluent tend to roast their potatoes? and What is so comforting about macaroni and cheese anyway? The many contradictions of Americans' relationships with food are identified: food is both a primal source of sensual pleasure and a major cultural anxiety; Americans adore celebrity chefs, but no one cooks at home anymore; the gourmet health food industry is soaring, yet a longtime love affair with fast food endures. The future of food is also covered, including speculation about whether traditional meals will one day evolve into the mere popping of a nutrition capsule.