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Paperback Food in History Book

ISBN: 0517884046

ISBN13: 9780517884041

Food in History

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

An enthralling world history of food from prehistoric times to the present. A favorite of gastronomes and history buffs alike, Food in History is packed with intriguing information, lore, and startling insights--like what cinnamon had to do with the discovery of America, and how food has influenced population growth and urban expansion.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Very Interesting!!

My class and I found this book very interesting. High school kids don't usually want to be read to, but they continually requested that I read to them once I started this book. So many weird and wonderful facts about foods we eat everyday are presented. It lead to a great deal of discussion!

What we eat and where it came from

"Food in History" is a survey of world history from the standpoint of what people ate and when. The time period covered is from the prehistoric up until nearly the present. Along the way the author gives us a brief history of the eating habits of the Romans (unborn rabbits!), China, India, the Arabs, the Europeans, and the modern world. She includes brief histories of tea, coffee, salt, jerky, chocolate, human beings, and many other food items. This is not a recipe or a nutrition book -- although the author includes ancient recipes and comments on nutritional diseases such as scurvy. Many a fascinating tidbit of information is found within these pages. For example, I learned that the Romans were addicted to a fish sauce they called liquamen which seems to be nearly identical to the fish sauce used in SE Asia today. The Medieval section included several hilarious pages devoted to table manners in the Middle Ages, including a dissertation on breaking wind at the dinner table. (My wife says that only guys find this subject funny.) This is a book I've had on my shelves for decades and I pick it up now and then and read about the eating habits of one civilization or another. The prose is generally lively and authoritative. Oddly enough, food doesn't seem to have inspired many historians so this book may be the best you can find on the subject even though it was written 30 years ago. Smallchief

Great Synopsis of Food, and also World History

Food in History is an excellent introduction to a piece of human history that is probably so obviously important it's not widely researched: the crucial part that food played and plays in human society. Sure, everyone learns about how the spice trade was a leading factor in the Age of Exploration, and the discovery of crop rotation in the early Middle Ages, which "killed more than one child's interest in history" as the author rightly points out. This book goes much farther than that, showing the development of eating habits from neolithic man up to the early/mid 20th Century. Along the way, the author points out some truths that will be unpleasant to the food faddists of the early 21st Century: Humans ARE omnivores by evolution, and salt is also an evolution-induced craving, are just two of the basic points in the story of humans and food. (Speaking of food fads, these aren't limited to our Century and the US, fruit was considered dangerous by more than one culture and for reasons that sound depressingly familiar concerning dietary recommendations today...)In a survey like this one, it can't do justice to EVERY culture's cuisine, but it does come close. Roman, Arab, Indian, Asian, and the influence of the Americas on European foods are well covered. The prose is lively, much wittier than I thought it would be given the subject, but also scholastic.Is this a "popular" history? Yeah, I would say so, but there is also great material in here for the student and historian. So much so, that Food in History would make a great supplemental book for a World History course. Highly recommended.

Academic and beautifully written

This survey of food in history discusses why certain food was eaten, how it was eaten, how it was stored and cultivated, and why it was stored and cultivated. Reay Tannahill manages to make this work very readable yet academic with information that is documented and annotated clearly. She precisely indicates what information is speculative, inferred, or known from artifacts and records. Moreover, the information about food and culture is fascinating. This is the best book I have read so far this year.

How food makes culture, and culture makes food...

This book is a fascinating trip through history viewed from food - what people ate, why they ate it, how it changed them and the world. No recipes - but plenty of menus from pre-history to Rome, China, the Americas, the Industrial Revolution to the late 20th century.Every aspect of the influence of food on human development and worl history is examined - everything from vegetarianism to cannibalism.As for me, I finally know what "pease porridge" really is!
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