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Overview

The story of cuisine and the social history of eating is a fascinating one, and Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat covers all its aspects in this classic history.

  • New expanded edition of a classic book, originally published to great critical acclaim from Raymond Blanc, The New York Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent and more
  • Tells the story of man’s relationship with food from earliest times to the present day
  • Includes a new foreword by acclaimed food writer Betty Fussell, a preface by the author, updated bibliography, and a new chapter bringing the story up to date
  • New edition in jacketed hardback, with c.70 illustrations and a new glossy color plate section

"Indispensable, and an endlessly fascinating book. The view is staggering. Not a book to digest at one or several sittings. Savor it instead, one small slice at a time, accompanied by a very fine wine."
–New York Times

"This book is not only impressive for the knowledge it provides, it is unique in its integration of historical anecdotes and factual data. It is a marvellous reference to a great many topics."
–Raymond Blanc

"Quirky, encyclopaedic, and hugely entertaining. A delight."
Sunday Telegraph

"It's the best book when you are looking for very clear but interesting stories. Everything is cross-referenced to an extraordinary degree, which is great because the information given is so complex and interweaving."
The Independent

"A History of Food is a monumental work, a prodigious feat of careful scholarship, patient research and attention to detail. Full of astonishing but insufficiently known facts."
Times Higher Education Supplement

Now in paperback, here is the fascinating, definitive history of cuisine and eating. Magauelonne Toussaint-Samat looks at the transition from a vegetable to an increasingly meat-based diet, as well as the relationship between people and what they eat, between particular foods and social behavior, and between dietary habits and methods of cooking.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book should be in all libraries where history and food are a concern. It gives information that is not available anywhere else. It is well written and fascinating reading." (American Reference Books Annual, 2010)

"A History of Food is a concise yet massively entertaining read that looks at the earliest hunter-gatherer societies and moves on to bring readers right up to the modern day. … It goes quite well with a cup of tea and a biscuit, and dipping in anywhere will uncover something delicious." (Heritage Key, December 2009)

"The reader will be amazed and fascinated by the dizzying array of details about various foods in this 700-page tome." (Choice Reviews, May 2009)

"Classic text … .[Brought] up to date by including 'the latest scientific and technological discoveries' regarding the food we eat." (Contemporary Review, 2009)

"This densely informed history ranges from the first bread loaves to the low-down on cauliflowers. Fab for food geeks, it's one to dip into rather than devour in one go." (Metro, December 2008)

"The second edition of this dense tome is perfect for the historian on your list." (San Francisco Chronicle, December 2008)

"This densely informed history ranges from the first bread loaves to the lowdown on cauliflowers. Fab for food geeks, it's one to dip into rather than devour in one go." (Metro Food Books of the Year, December 2008)

"A fascinating study that starts with the era when we are all still living in trees. Scrupulously thorough and pleasingly idiosyncratic, it promises the reader many a happy hour blissfully contemplating our ancient relationship with our stomachs. And that’s as much as you can ask from any food book." (Independent, November 2008)

"Forceful and challenging … A powerful, compelling and readable case against biblical literalism and fundamentalism." (Times Higher Education, November 2008)

"Encyclopaedic in scope, the result is never dull … You will find it, I guarantee, unfailingly witty and comprehensively rewarding." (The Glasgow Herald, November 2008)

"Scrupulously thorough and pleasingly idiosyncratic, it promises the reader many a happy hour blissfully contemplating our ancient relationship with our stomachs. And that's as much as you can ask from any food book." (The Independent, November 2008)

"A fascinating, enormously impressive work which will delight not just the foodie but anyone in social history." (Tribune, November 2008)

"Toussaint Samat presents not just the historical background but the cultural, religious and social impact of food. Extensively researched with quotations from a wide array of historical sources … .Some areas receive more intense scrutiny—wine for example … .A useful source for students or researchers as a strong first reference point and for anyone with a dedicated interest in food history. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries." (Library Journal, November 2008)

"First published in France in 1987, the second edition of this dense tome is perfect for the historian on your list. It explores the 10,000-year-old relationship between humans and food, including facts about foie gras, the history of olive oil and the symbolism of poultry." (San Francisco Chronicle, November 2008)

"A fascinating study that starts with the era when we were still living in trees (yes, really). Scrupulously thorough and pleasingly idiosyncratic, it promises the reader many a happy hour blissfully contemplating our ancient relationship with our stomachs. And that's as much as you can ask from any food book." (The Independent on Sunday, November 2008)

"A fascinating, enormously impressive work which will delight not just the foodie but anyone interested in social history." (Tribune, November 2008)

"This excellent guide is an exploration of man's relationship with food from the discovery of fire onwards." (The Independent, October 2008)

"This book should be republished and re-titled THE History of Food. It's probably the most remarkable book on the subject I have ever had the pleasure of reading." (Mostly Food Journal, October 2008)

Praise for the First Edition:

"Indispensable, and an endlessly fascinating book. The view is staggering. Not a book to digest at one or several sittings. Savor it instead, one small slice at a time, accompanied by a very fine wine." (New York Times)

"This book is not only impressive for the knowledge it provides, it is unique in its integration of historical anecdotes and factual data. It is a marvellous reference to a great many topics." (Raymond Blanc, Restaurateur Writer)

"Quirky, encyclopaedic, and hugely entertaining. A delight." (Sunday Telegraph)

"It's the best book when you are looking for very clear but interesting stories. Everything is cross-referenced to an extraordinary degree, which is great because the information given is so complex and interweaving." (The Independent)

"A History of Food is a monumental work, a prodigious feat of careful scholarship, patient research and attention to detail. Full of astonishing but insufficiently known facts." (Times Higher Education Supplement)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although this voluminous compendium, mixing social and natural history, is a worthy resource, it lacks verve and narrative coherence. Toussaint-Samat, a French journalist and sociologist, is more accomplished at describing the past, such as the origins of hunting and gathering, than the uses of food today and the development of modern cuisine. The author canvasses the world but emphasizes Europe and especially France, which may interest Francophiles for Toussaint-Samat devotes more attention to foie gras than to pasta. The book contains interesting information--on winemaking at monasteries and the role of merchants in the Middle Ages--but subjects like chocolate and chilis beg for more creative exposition. Illustrations. Dec.
Library Journal

From hunters and gatherers and the onset of agriculture to the rise of commercial foodways, historian Toussaint-Samat presents not just the historical background but the cultural, religious, and social impact of food. Extensively researched, with quotations from a wide array of historical sources, the volume does tend to focus slightly more on Europe than on other parts of the world, although there is a visible effort to provide balanced coverage. While some areas receive more intense scrutiny-wine, for example, rates over 30 pages-other topics are skimmed over: an entire section of the book covering sugar, chocolate, tea, coffee, and confectionaries, all significant introductions, fills only 50 pages. While not precisely a book to be read from cover to cover, this will be a useful source for students or researchers as a strong first reference point and for anyone with a dedicated interest in food history. Changes include a new preface, epilog, updated bibliography, and chapter addressing recent issues relating to food. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries, although those whose collections include the first edition should not consider it an essential update.
—Courtney Greene

From Barnes & Noble
Covers in one volume the history of foodstuffs, the story of cuisine, and the social history of eating. Discusses such aspects as the domestication of animals, farming, dietary issues, the enjoyment of food, more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405181198
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/10/2008
  • Edition description: 2nd, New and Expanded Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 776
  • Sales rank: 627,405
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat is an historian, journalist and writer. She has written for a variety of periodicals in France and published over seventeen books on cuisine, history, and French regional culture. Her books on the Loire and Perigord received commendations from the Academie Française and the Academie du Perigord. Her principal historical interest is in the medieval and renaissance culture of Europe, in particular the domestic economy, food and clothing. She pursues her research in association with the École des Hautes Études.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the New Expanded Edition by Betty Fussell.

Preface.

List of Illustrations.

Acknowledgements.

Introduction.

Part I: Collecting Gathering Hunting.

From Fire to the Pot.

1 COLLECTING HONEY.

Honey in the Golden Age.

A Taste of Honey.

Honey in Legend.

Honey in Nature and History.

Honey-Cakes, Spice-Bread, Gingerbread.

Mead and Sacramental Intoxication.

2 THE HISTORY OF GATHERING.

The Ancient Pulses.

The Symbolism of Beans.

The Etymology (and Entomology) of Haricot Beans.

The Holy War of Cassoulet.

Soya: the Most Widely Eaten Plant in the World.

Soya: Nutritional Facts and Figures.

Mushrooms and Fungi.

Roots.

Table of Vegetable Nutrition.

3 HUNTING.

The Great Days and the Decline of Game.

Nutritional Facts and Figures about Game.

Part II: Stock-breeding Arable Farming: Meat, Milk, Cereals.

The Evidence of Occupied Sites.

4 THE HISTORY OF MEAT.

The Birth of Stock-breeding and Society.

Table of Areas of Origin of the First Domestic Animals.

Meat-Eating: Likes and Dislikes.

The Horse, the Spirit of Corn.

Fat Oxen and Prosperous Butchers.

5 THE HISTORY OF DAIRY PRODUCE.

Cheese and Curds.

Yoghurt: Fermented Milk.

Butter: the Cream of the Milk.

The Symbolism of Butter.

6 THE HISTORY OF CEREALS.

Cereals as Civilizers.

The Symbolism of Wheat.

Table of the Long March of Cereals.

Imperialist Cereals.

The Myth of Demeter.

Everyday Cereals.

Harvest Festivals.

Strategic Cereals.

Rice in the East.

The Symbolism of Rice.

Maize in the West.

Why Maize is Called 'I Have No More Gumbo'.

Why Corn-Cobs are Thin and Small.

Zuni Legend of Maize Flour.

From Porridge to Beer.

The Technique of Brewing Beer.

The History of Pasta.

The History of Grain Spirits.

Part III: The Three Sacramental Foods: Oil, Bread, Wine.

The Fundamental Trinity.

7 THE HISTORY OF OIL.

Olive Oil.

The Dietary History of Olive Oil.

Olive Oil in Legend and Symbolism.

Making Olive Oil.

Other Oils.

Margarine.

8 THE HISTORY OF BREAD AND CAKES.

The Bread on the Board.

The Symbolism of Bread and Cakes.

Four Stages in the Development of Bread-Making.

The Taste of Bread.

The Technique of Bread-Making.

Our Daily Bread.

Special Cakes for Sundays.

9 THE HISTORY OF WINE.

From the Vine to Wine.

Dessert Grapes.

The Technique of Wine-Making.

The Symbolism of Wine.

The Legend of Dionysus.

The Proper Use of Wine.

Cooking with Wine.

Wine and God.

A Wine of Revolution.

Part IV: The Economy of the Markets.

The Centre of the City.

10 THE HISTORY OF FISH.

The Fish of the Ancient World.

A Who's Who of Sea Fish.

The Salmonidae: a family of aristocrats.

Fishing in Legend.

Extravagance and Economy in Eating Fish.

The Symbolism of Fish.

Uses for Less Profitable Fish.

The Providential Nature of Salt Fish.

Drying, Salting and Smoking Fish; an Age-Old Procedure.

Table of the Nutritional values of Fish.

Aquaculture and Pisciculture: Fish Farming.

Blue Europe, or the Common Fish Market.

From Fishing to Our Plates.

Table of the Economic and Social Potential of a Common Fishing Zone.

11 THE HISTORY OF POULTRY.

Facts about Poultry.

Choosing Poultry.

The Symbolism of Poultry.

Eggs: their Uses and Customs.

Part V: Luxury Foods.

The Revels of the Gauls.

12 TREASURES FROM THE SEA.

The History of Garum.

The History of Caviare.

A Who’s Who of caviare.

How to Keep Caviare Happy.

The History of Shellfish and Crustaceans.

Facts about Crustaceans.

The History of Shellfish-Farming.

The Biology of the Oyster.

The Biology of the Mussel.

13 THE TREASURE OF THE FORESTS.

The History of Pork and Charcuterie.

About Ham.

Sausages.

The Symbolism of the Pig.

The History of Foie Gras.

Facts about Foie Gras.

The Symbolism of Liver.

The History of Truffles.

Part VI: The Era of the Merchants.

Making a Good Profit.

14 AN ESSENTIAL FOOD.

The History of Salt.

The Symbolism of Salt.

The Technique of Winning Salt.

15 SPICE AT ANY PRICE.

About Spices.

The Secrets of Spices.

Cinnamon.

Pepper.

Ginger.

Turmeric and Cardamom.

Cloves.

The Great Trading Companies.

Nutmeg and Mace.

Chillies and Sweet Peppers.

Aromatics and the Imagination.

Saffron.

Vanilla.

Everyday Condiments and Herbs.

Herbs.

The Proper Use of Spices, Aromatics and Condiments.

The Grocer's Trade.

Part VII: New Needs: Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee, Tea.

Gluttony and Greed for Gain.

16 THE LURE OF SUGAR.

Rum, A Sugar Spirit.

The Legend of Sugar.

17 CONFECTIONERY AND PRESERVES.

18 CHOCOLATE AND DIVINITY.

Definitions of Chocolate.

19 COFFEE AND POLITICS.

Coffee from the Islands.

Coffee in Legend.

20 TEA AND PHILOSOPHY.

Tea in Legend.

The Symbolism of Tea.

Part VIII: Orchards and Kitchen Gardens.

Instructions for the Garden.

21 THE TRADITION OF FRUITS.

The Symbolism of the Apple.

Grafting.

Dessert Apples.

Table of Production of Apples in EC Countries, 1982–3.

Cider and Calvados.

Pears.

Plums.

Peaches.

The Peach in Legend.

Apricots.

The Dietetics of Apricots.

Cherries.

The Dietetics of Cherries.

Strawberries.

Melons.

Oranges.

Growing and Selling Oranges.

A Who's Who of Oranges.

Grapefruit.

Figs.

The Symbolism of Figs and The Fig Tree.

Dates.

Pineapples.

Bananas.

Avocados.

22 THE EVOLUTION OF VEGETABLES.

Cabbages.

Cauliflowers.

Salad.

Chicory and Endive.

Watercress.

Asparagus.

Growing Asparagus.

Artichokes.

Tomatoes.

23 THE POTATO REVOLUTION.

Sweet Chestnuts.

Potatoes.

Soufflé Potatoes.

Part IX: Science and Conscience in the Diet.

The Hows and Whys of Quality.

24 PRESERVING BY HEAT.

Canned Sardines.

The Technique of Canning.

Food Preservation.

Pasteurized Milk.

25 PRESERVING BY COLD.

Quick-Freezing.

26 THE REASSURANCE OF DIETETICS.

Vitamins.

Chronology of Dietary Progress.

27 A REASSURING FUTURE.

Notes.

Select Bibliography of Recent English-Language Works.

Bibliography to Original Edition.

Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2001

    Invaluable!!

    No culinary student or chef- to -be should be without this book. How important is salt beyond the dinner table? Find out where Saltzburg got its name. What three items were deemed by Moses as the sacrificial foods of choice and why. Its one thing to cook and plate food, its another to understand their history. Make youreself a better food-historian and look beyond current cuissene.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 1999

    Spice is nice!

    Are you a lover of food? This book is great--it tells how all these yummy foods and spices came to be. Did you know that in the old days sailors sailed thousands of miles just to get some spices!? Interesting, eh? More fun tidbits. Reads like a comic book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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