History of Food / Edition 1

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Everything you eat has a story behind it. If you relish savory steaks you'll delight in the story of the Roman emperor who kept his figure by eating 40 pounds a meat a day. According to legend, you may even one day discover the genie of the tea, an ancient Chinese poet. Compiling countless references and illustrations, History of Food serves up delicious research on the common groceries you buy and some not-so-common foods eaten throughout the world.

This well-written volume discusses the historical significance of food and myths surrounding various delectable treats. It describes hunting and gathering, ancient rituals surrounding certain foods, and a vast array of cooking techniques. History of Food is a must-have for your kitchen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The second edition of this dense tome is perfect for thehistorian on your list." (San Francisco Chronicle, December2008)

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

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

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

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

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

"A fascinating, enormously impressive work which will delightnot just the foodie but anyone in social history." (Tribune,November 2008)

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

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

"A fascinating study that starts with the era when we were stillliving in trees (yes, really). Scrupulously thorough and pleasinglyidiosyncratic, it promises the reader many a happy hour blissfullycontemplating our ancient relationship with our stomachs. Andthat's as much as you can ask from any food book." (TheIndependent on Sunday, November 2008)

"A fascinating, enormously impressive work which will delightnot just the foodie but anyone interested in social history."(Tribune, November 2008)

"This excellent guide is an exploration of man's relationshipwith food from the discovery of fire onwards." (TheIndependent, October 2008)

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

Praise for the First Edition:

"Indispensable, and an endlessly fascinating book. The view isstaggering. Not a book to digest at one or several sittings. Savorit instead, one small slice at a time, accompanied by a very finewine." (New York Times)

"This book is not only impressive for the knowledge it provides,it is unique in its integration of historical anecdotes and factualdata. 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 butinteresting stories. Everything is cross-referenced to anextraordinary degree, which is great because the information givenis so complex and interweaving." (The Independent)

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

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: 9780631194972
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/14/2007
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 824
  • Product dimensions: 8.76 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 1.71 (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

List of Illustrations
Introduction 1
I Collecting, Gathering, Hunting 7
1 Collecting honey 15
2 The history of gathering 39
3 Hunting 72
II Stock-Breeding, Arable Farming: Meat, Milk, Cereals 89
4 The history of meat 93
5 The history of dairy produce 113
6 The history of cereals 125
III The Three Sacramental Foods: Oil, Bread, Wine 201
7 The history of oil 205
8 The history of bread and cakes 223
9 The history of wine 247
IV The Economy of the Markets 291
10 The history of fish 296
11 The history of poultry 336
V Luxury Foods 365
12 Treasures from the sea 373
13 The treasure of the forests 407
VI The Era of the Merchants 443
14 An essential food 457
15 Spice at any price 480
VII New Needs: Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee, Tea 547
16 The lure of sugar 552
17 Confectionery and preserves 565
18 Chocolate and divinity 574
19 Coffee and politics 581
20 Tea and philosophy 596
VIII Orchards and Kitchen Gardens 607
21 The tradition of fruits 621
22 The evolution of vegetables 688
23 The potato revolution 711
IX Science and Conscience in the Diet 729
24 Preserving by heat 735
25 Preserving by cold 749
26 The assurance of dietetics 755
Notes 764
Bibliography 782
Index 787
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    Treasury for Gourmet's, Gourmands, Food Snobs, and Casual Readers Alike...

    At 801 pages, this volume is, to say the least, exhaustive in its efforts to present not only a thorough history of food and cuisine, but also a witty and endlessly charming story of the hows and whys to what we eat. Some of the stories, historical anecdotes, and speculations unfold excitingly before the reader, in the grand tradition of good historical texts, but don't think for a moment that this book is only for foodies or history majors. It greatly transcends its trappings as a simple 'history book', and it will endure as a classic in its own right. Enjoy this one in passages...relax, and absorb what it has to tell you.

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