Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Cynthia Clampitt  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;


-- Website --
-- Cynthia Clampitt on WorldCat --

E-Mail: --

Illinois Connection

Clampitt makes her home in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Cynthia Clampitt is an award-winning writer and popular speaker, focusing primarily on topics related to food, travel, history, and geography. In addition to being an author she writes for magazines and educational publishers (history and geography). In 2017 she was selected by the Illinois Humanities Council for the special Illinois Bicentennial “Road Scholar” program—her second time as an “Illinois Road Scholar."

Cynthia contributed major articles to the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and World Encyclopedia of Street Food, as well as shorter articles to the Encyclopedia of Chicago Food and Drink. Her book, Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Baconfest, is being published by Rowman & Littlefield (Sept. 2018), and she has begun work on another book of Midwest history.

Cynthia is a member of the Society of Women Geographers, Culinary Historians of Chicago, Society of Midland Authors, Chicago Writers Association, Association of Food Journalists, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Waltzing Australia
ISBN: 1419663062

BookSurge Publishing. 2007

Waltzing Australia was born out of a dream—and a journey. After walking away from her corporate career, Cynthia Clampitt headed to Australia, to start over, to write, and to test the limits of what she could do. Waltzing Australia recounts that joyous adventure. It is a story about change and about making dreams come true. But more than that, it is about Australia: the history, legends and art, both European and Aboriginal the beauty, the challenge, the people, the land. From Sydney to Perth, Tasmania to Darwin, tropics to desert, city to wilderness, Clampitt carries the reader along on an exhilarating grand tour of a fascinating country. With a writing style reminiscent of Annie Dillard, she captures the essence of the land Down Under and invites others to fall in love with Australia.

Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland (Heartland Foodways)
ISBN: 0252080572

University of Illinois Press. 2015

Food historian Cynthia Clampitt pens the epic story of what happened when Mesoamerican farmers bred a nondescript grass into a staff of life so prolific, so protean, that it represents nothing less than one of humankind's greatest achievements. Blending history with expert reportage, she traces the disparate threads that have woven corn into the fabric of our diet, politics, economy, science, and cuisine. At the same time she explores its future as a source of energy and the foundation of seemingly limitless green technologies. The result is a bourbon-to-biofuels portrait of the astonishing plant that sustains the world.

Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Baconfest (Rowman & Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy)
ISBN: 1538110741

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 2018

Among the first creatures to help humans attain the goal of having enough to eat was the pig, which provided not simply enough, but general abundance. Domesticated early and easily, herds grew at astonishing rates (only rabbits are more prolific). Then, as people spread around the globe, pigs and traditions went with them, with pigs making themselves at home wherever explorers or settlers carried them. Today, pork is the most commonly consumed meat in the world—and no one else in the world produces more pork than the American Midwest.

Pigs and pork feature prominently in many cuisines and are restricted by others. In the U.S. during the early1900s, pork began to lose its preeminence to beef, but today, we are witnessing a resurgence of interest in pork, with talented chefs creating delicacies out of every part of the pig. Still, while people enjoy “pigging out,” few know much about hog history, and fewer still know of the creatures’ impact on the world, and specifically the Midwest. From brats in Wisconsin to tenderloin in Iowa, barbecue in Kansas City to porketta in the Iron Range to goetta in Cincinnati, the Midwest is almost defined by pork. Here, tracking the history of pig as pork, Cynthia Clampitt offers a fun, interesting, and tasty look at pigs as culture, calling, and cuisine.


-- Mom's Choice Award for Travel Writing for

Waltzing Australia

-- Short-listed for Midwestern History Association award for best regional history book of 2015 and Honorable mention, Eric Hoffer Awards,

Midwest Maize

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

For program topics or for upcoming speaking engagements, visit Cynthia's website and click on "Speaking Links" at the left. Her programs include:

''How Corn Changed Itself and then Changed Everything Else''

About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass in Mexico transformed itself into corn and then transformed the Americas, even before First Contact. After First Contact, it swept across North America, building cities and inspiring poets, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Vampires, Henry Ford, time zones, Fritos, and the Chicago Bears are all part of this remarkable story. Today, corn is more important than ever. (Teens and Adults; 60 min; $135 plus travel and permission to sell books)

  • Clampitt is again an Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar — for the Illinois Bicentennial speaker bureau — with this program.

  • ''Seeking Spiceland''

    For most of recorded history, people searched for routes to southern India, source of many of world�s most popular spices. But Southern India offers more than spices. It possesses a surprising history, stunning beauty, gracious people, and wonderful food. Come learn about spice history, the place of southern India in world events, and the delights to be enjoyed by a visitor today. Narrated slideshow. Includes handouts. (General audience; 60 min; $135 plus travel)

    ''The Rule of Rum''

    Come learn the reason rum arose where it did and when it did, and how pirates got involved, as well as how rum helped unite the 13 Colonies, why it became one of the issues that led to the American Revolution, how it also led to a revolt in its next home after the Caribbean Australia, and how it affected culture and history after that. Includes handouts. (Adults; 60 min; $135 plus travel)