Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

Overview


Rachel Laudan tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the world’s great cuisines—from the mastery of grain cooking some twenty thousand years ago, to the present—in this superbly researched book. Probing beneath the apparent confusion of dozens of cuisines to reveal the underlying simplicity of the culinary family tree, she shows how periodic seismic shifts in “culinary philosophy”—beliefs about health, the economy, politics, society and the gods—prompted the construction of new cuisines, a handful of...
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Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

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Overview


Rachel Laudan tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the world’s great cuisines—from the mastery of grain cooking some twenty thousand years ago, to the present—in this superbly researched book. Probing beneath the apparent confusion of dozens of cuisines to reveal the underlying simplicity of the culinary family tree, she shows how periodic seismic shifts in “culinary philosophy”—beliefs about health, the economy, politics, society and the gods—prompted the construction of new cuisines, a handful of which, chosen as the cuisines of empires, came to dominate the globe.

Cuisine and Empire shows how merchants, missionaries, and the military took cuisines over mountains, oceans, deserts, and across political frontiers. Laudan’s innovative narrative treats cuisine, like language, clothing, or architecture, as something constructed by humans. By emphasizing how cooking turns farm products into food and by taking the globe rather than the nation as the stage, she challenges the agrarian, romantic, and nationalistic myths that underlie the contemporary food movement.
 

Winner of the 2014 IACP Cookbook Award for Culinary History

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Editorial Reviews

The Austin Chronicle, on the range - Virginia B. Wood

"During my forty year culinary career, there have been a select number of books that became touchstones, volumes that seemed to arrive just when inspiration was needed or direction was appropriate, books that somehow enhanced my sense of having found my calling. The newest addition to the list is a work of culinary history by Rachel Laudan."
Los Angeles Times Daily Dish

"It seems like every time you hear someone mention processed food, it's accompanied with the words 'bad' or 'unhealthy,' plus a shaking finger. Unless you're author Rachel Laudan."
TLS

"Magnificent . . . Some of Laudan's 'diffusion maps' of particular styles of cuisine are miniature masterpieces of cultural history."
The Daily Spud

"Epic in range. . . . Its solidity and substance make a change from the day-to-day scatter of information delivered and consumed in tweets and sound bites."
Blue Lifestyle Minute

"A fascinating account of the rise and fall of cuisines. . . . Touching on all parts of the globe, Rachel explores human development through the vastly understated tool of food."
Repast

"A new standard for global culinary history."
Library Journal
10/01/2013
In her new book, Jane Grigson Prize-winning author Laudan (The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage) has written a broad overview of culinary history, from early humans to McDonald's. Laudan does an excellent job of taking the reader across the globe and through time, using food as her vehicle. She explores how cuisines moved and evolved as a result of changes in politics, society, and religion as well as evolving health beliefs. For instance, Laudan describes how during the 17th century, fermentation was deemed more important than cooking; thus, foods such as mushrooms and fresh fruit were considered healthy, despite years of tradition to the contrary. Notably, the author also shows how armies helped spread foods—the Romans, for example, took their cuisine to the Orient and brought Eastern cooking back to Rome. Laudan successfully breaks down a complex and sweeping topic into a fascinating read. VERDICT This well-written and well-researched scholarly work will appeal to historians as well as foodies.—Lisa Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520266452
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/21/2013
  • Series: California Studies in Food and Culture , #43
  • Pages: 488
  • Sales rank: 360,350
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Rachel Laudan is the prize-winning author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage and a coeditor of the Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. Mastering Grain Cookery, 20,000–300 B.C.E.
2. The Barley-Wheat Cuisines of the Ancient Empires, 500 B.C.E.–400 C.E.
3. Buddhist Cuisines, 260 B.C.E.–4800 C.E.
4. Islam Transforms the Cuisines of Central and West Asia, 800–1650 C.E.
5. Christianity Transforms the Cuisines of Europe and the Americas, 100–1650 C.E.
6. Prelude to Modern Cuisines: Northern Europe, 1650–1840
7. Modern Cuisines: The Expansion of Middling Cuisines, 1810–1920
8. Modern Cuisines: The Globalization of Middling Cuisines, 1920–2000

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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