The Oxford Companion to Food

The Oxford Companion to Food

by Alan Davidson, Soun Vannithone
     
 

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Twenty years in the making, here is the long-awaited magnum opus from one of the world's great authorities on the history and use of food. This Companion is packed with 2,650 delightfully written A-Z entries—including 39 feature articles on staple foods—the vast majority penned by the renowned Alan Davidson, with additional articles by over fifty

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Overview

Twenty years in the making, here is the long-awaited magnum opus from one of the world's great authorities on the history and use of food. This Companion is packed with 2,650 delightfully written A-Z entries—including 39 feature articles on staple foods—the vast majority penned by the renowned Alan Davidson, with additional articles by over fifty specialists from as far afield as the Philippines, Norway, and Australia.
The coverage is spectacular, with the most wide-ranging treatment ever of foods and food products and how to use them. Indeed, the Companion covers everything—plant products, meats, birds and eggs, dairy products, nuts, fish and all seafoods, plant foods, cereals, and exotic foods. Davidson examines famous dishes from around the world—from cassoulet, croque-monsieur, and couscous, to spam, sherbet, and sonofabitch stew. There are over 140 entries on national and regional cuisines (Cajun cooking, Pennsylvania Dutch). Even Antarctica is included in this unique panorama. Other subjects covered in depth include food preservation, culinary terms and techniques, food science and diet, cookbooks and their authors, and the role of food in culture and religion. The book is enhanced by some 180 exquisite illustrations of foods by Laotian artist Soun Vannithone, ranging from the comfortingly familiar to the bizarre and rare. In fact, the common and the exotic mingle throughout, with the everyday (apples, apricots) and the exotic (akee, ambarella, baobab) found side by side.
Here then is a true cornucopia, offering all the flavors, styles, and staples of the world, past and present, from classical Greek and Roman cookery to modern Australian and Hawaiian cuisines. Food historians, food scientists, food writers, chefs, restaurateurs, amateur cooks, and everyone with a serious interest in cooking—and eating—will feast on this authoritative reference on food.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The 'O.C.F' is so entertainingly written that it's easy to forget it's a work of true scholarship. Published in 1999, it was received with great enthusiasm in and out of the food world and found its way onto thousands of bookshelves."—The New York Times Magazine

"From the day it was published—no, from the day the bound proofs arrived—it became the one basic reference work of food scholarship, the volume to which we will all turn first whenever we have a question about food—historical, cultural, or botanical.... It is undoubtedly the most important encyclopedic volume about food published in our lifetimes."—Vogue

"A food book for all time.... The canon of great food literature just got one fat volume greater.... A must-have for any serious food follower."—Gourmet

"The publishing event of the year, if not the decade.... Alan Davidson, the legendarily learned (and eccentric) former British diplomat and international authority on seafood...and godfather to food scholars around the world, has written most of the 2,650 entries, in itself a stupendous feat.... Everyone seriously interested in food must own this book.... A great achievement."—Corby Kummer, The New York Times Book Review

"It is hard to imagine a more congenial companion than Davidson.... This massive volume is nothing short of the grandest of SMORGASBORDS, a sumptuous BUFFET with more SAVORIES, ZAKUSKI and SWEETIES than your typical state dinner. Davidson spent 23 years working on this book, and one can see why: many of the 2,650 entries are worth a separate volume of their own, if not dozens.... A road map to food with a truly global reach... For serious food historians, this will no doubt become an irreplaceable companion. For those amateurs who are merely fascinated by food and who appreciate lucid and witty writing that seeks to deflate the pretensions of your average gastronome, it will provide hours of amusement."—Time Magazine

"A masterly work with a variety of voices, from the straightforward, almost dry, to the quirky and the witty. It will anchor my other research materials, nudging aside 'Larousse Gastronomique' and Waverly Root's 'Food'.... It's hard not to be awed by 892 pages dense with extremely thorough and well-written entries, enhanced by cross-references and indexes and larded with anecdotes and strong opinions."—Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

"Serendipity is a rewarding way to negotiate this colossal volume. Looking up 'chuck' will lead you to 'chuck wagon,' to 'sourdough,' and to 'sonofabitch stew, a cowboy dish of unusual character'.... Some day the field of food history...will achieve full academic status and respectability. This will be largely thanks to Mr. Davidson's labors and 'The Oxford Companion to Food.'" —Paul Levy, The Wall Street Journal

"A culinary sine qua non.... This 892-page tour de force will enlighten you as to the history, cultivation, and flavor of every edible you've ever heard of and hundreds more you never even knew existed." —Men's Journal

"Outstanding.... Davidson deserves the eternal gratitude of researchers everywhere.... Destined to become a classic." —Library Journal

Paul Levy
Serendipity is a rewarding way to negotiate this colossal volume. Some day the field of food history or culinary history or gastronomy or foodways, or whatever it may be called, will achieve full academic status and respectability. This will be largely thanks to Mr. Davidson's labors and The Oxford Companion to Food. And thanks to him, too, it need never be a dull subject.
Wall Street Journal
Library Journal
The first edition of Davidson's award-winning Oxford Companion to Food appeared in print in 1999. With the second edition of this culinary classic, food writer and publisher Tom Jaine takes editorial charge. While keeping true to Davidson's distinctive and entertaining writing style, Paine has updated many of the approximately 3000 original entries in the book and added 70 new topics (e.g., "Globalization," "Olives"). Covering everything from individual ingredients and cooking techniques to food celebrities and national cuisines, the authoritative and engaging The Oxford Companion to Food is one of the best basic culinary reference books available. In the latest update of The Oxford Companion to Wine, first published in 1994, not only have hundreds of the book's original 3000 entries been revised but over 400 new entries, such as "Coastal Region," "Heritage Varieties," and "Icon Wine," have been added to this superb reference book. Wine expert, journalist, and author Robinson and her contributors continue to write with zesty enthusiasm about everything from the different varieties of grapes to the world's great wineries and geographic areas of production. Bottom Line Both of these reasonably priced classic books are highly recommended for academic and public libraries, especially those that do not already own previous editions; The Oxford Companion to Wine remains the essential wine resource for most any library's collection. John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
People Magazine
Not a cookbook so much as a cook's book, this long-awaited encyclopedia will thrill food fanatics who can lift it. The latest in Oxford's Companion series, Food features comprehensive entries on 2,650 subjects, from the mouthwatering to the weird. Elephant Garlic? Sure, but also Elephant, a delicacy in Egypt. Broader topics—like Mushroom—rate expanded articles.

Alan Davidson, a former British ambassador to Laos and a food expert, spent 20 years assembling this authoritative volume (with contributions from other writers). No recipes but 178 handsome illustrations.

Florence Fabricant
The book, an outgrowth, of the annual Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery, lives up to the highest expectations. It is a masterly work with a variety of voices, from the straightforward, almost dry, to the quirky and witty....It's not hard to be awed by the 892 pages dense with extremely thorough and well-written entries, enhanced by cross-references and indexes and larded with anecdotes and strong opinions.
The New York Times
Seth McEvoy
The Oxford Companion to Food is astounding in breadth and thoroughness, including 2,650 A-Z (dictionary-like) entries, detailing international food products and their preparation. London food historian Davidson persevered twenty years to complete this tome with the help of fifty regional specialists. His skill is best measured both by the usefulness and intrigue of his descriptions....amateurs and professionals alike will relish this work.
Foreword Magazine
Mens Journal
The more than 2,000 entries in the 892-page tour de force will enlighten you as to the history, cultivation, and flavor of every edible you've ever heard of and hundreds that you never even knew existed. If you want to learn how to roast termites like a Banana Island native (in an iron pot over a gentle fire) or where to sample monkey brains (Southeast Asia), this book is for you.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192115799
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/02/1999
Pages:
912
Product dimensions:
10.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.00(d)

Meet the Author

Alan Davidson is a distinguished author and publisher, and one of the world's best-known writers on fish and fish cookery. In 1975 he retired from the Diplomatic Service—after serving in, amongst other places, Washington, Egypt, Tunisia, and Laos, where he was British Ambassador—to pursue a fruitful third career (his first was in the Navy in World War II) as a food historian and food writer extraordinaire. Among his popular books are North Atlantic Seafood and Mediterranean Seafood. He and his American wife Jane live at World's End in Chelsea, London.

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