Reay Tannahill, food historian and historical novelist: born Glasgow 9 December ; married Michael Edwardes died ; marriage dissolved ; died London 2 November Reay Tannahill was an accidental pioneer of food history. Her Food in History was one of the earliest general books on the subject, and, though she had few qualifications for writing it, is still one of the best. It is excellent precisely because, when writing it, she had no models to emulate, and had actually to determine what her subject really was. To this task she brought the pair of gifts that mattered — intelligence and common sense.
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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. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published May 10th by Broadway Books first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews.
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Food in History , please sign up. Arjun Ravichandran There are illustrations in black and white. See 1 question about Food in History…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Food in History.
Jan 16, Lucinda rated it liked it Shelves: food , history. From a fellow bus rider: "So what's that book about: food and history?
View 1 comment. Mar 17, Ingrid Hardy rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-about-food , favorites , non-fiction. I read this book a few years ago softcover book , and it sits as a treasured book in my collection I'd like to have a hard cover of it one day. This is a fantastic reference book. It begins where humans began, back in the caves, and gives archeological evidence as well as common sense theories on how certain foods likely came to be, such as yogurt and butter were probably discovered because of the practice of traveling with milk in the dried stomachs of animals.
And one thing leads to another I read this book a few years ago softcover book , and it sits as a treasured book in my collection I'd like to have a hard cover of it one day. And one thing leads to another. The book is full of fascinating points on the usage, origin and development of all kinds of food, and not just covering the western world.
Nearly every country is mentioned, though as the author freely admits, written history needs to be taken with a I have several food history books in my collection - this one is my favorite that I flip through time and again. View all 3 comments. Nov 04, Lorri rated it really liked it Shelves: food-books , non-fiction. I enjoy food histories and this was no exception. There were a few points that disagreed with other histories, most notably the idea that man once used spice to disguise rancid meat.
However, overall I thought it gave an excellent overview and serves as a good companion to other more focused food histories. Dec 06, Wayne rated it did not like it Shelves: food. I put this down for the moment and turned to Roger Osbourne's Civilization: A New History of the Western World, to fill my history needs at the moment.
Thus, far, I've gotten to easily annoyed at some of the sweeping generalizzations and assumptions the author has made about what was chosen as the first methods of food, and the apparent lack of scholarship in how she decided.
I'll have to come back to it when I'm less annoyed with her approach to history. Tannahill not only describes these changes and, for example, regional differences in diet but also explains them, e. The book also demonstrates the wide-ranging impact of food-related issues on civilization. Thus science and technology are important e.
Changes in food can have long-lasting impacts. This doesn't just refer to the change from hunting and gathering to domestication and farming but also, e.
Sri Lanka's ethnic tensions similarly stem from plantations in the colonies. It was not the tea that the country formerly Ceylon is famous for, but instead for coffee, produced by Dutch colonists, that the Tamil workforce was brought to the plantations from India.
A fascinating book tracing food from pre-cooking-with-fire beginnings to modern day preoccupations with obesity vs famine, food buzzwords like 'natural' 'healthy' 'organic', diseases such as BSE and Foot and Mouth, additives and genetic modification. Aug 09, angi rated it really liked it Shelves: foodie.
Jan 19, John Mccullough rated it really liked it. We all must eat. Some of us are curious about how we have come to eat what we do eat. This is a history book for the general reader that is full of interesting details that enrich the background for the reader. Beginning with our prehistoric past, the reader is taken through the classic civilizations, then into the European Middle Ages and on to our own time.
The book has a strong Eurocentric slant, the evolving cuisines of this We all must eat. The book has a strong Eurocentric slant, the evolving cuisines of this peninsula being central and all other food complexes included primarily as they affect this evolution.
The background stories are entertaining and give perspective to the changing foods, preparations and manners of eating in the past and as they relate to our own home tables. The book was first published in — my edition dates t and includes some more recent information.
Still, that was 17 years ago and a few things have changed. Full-color pictures illuminating the text are found on almost a quarter of the pages including many that were probably difficult to find. I began reading the book to get a better perspective on food as it affects human health through time. I was not disappointed. If you enjoy eating or preparing a diverse selection of cuisines you will enjoy reading the book almost as much as you like food itself.
It took me years to read the book. Why I originally stopped reading mystifies me now that I have resumed reading and finished my task. The text is well-written and interesting, allowing the reader to zip through the book much more rapidly than might be anticipated. The chapters are a bit long but broken up into subsections. For the scholar, there are useful footnotes, bibliography and a minimal index.
Oct 17, Julia Lundman rated it it was amazing. Was reminded about this book today when someone posted about a food stall in Pompeii. Most did not have home kitchens, so they went to local public food stalls and stores to buy their meals. Wondering about those who couldn't afford to eat I loved this book, especially the details about Roman food and its origins. Recommended reading, but not for everyone as it is a pretty detailed history of cooking.
Aug 12, Nicole Means rated it really liked it. Concise history of food dating back to BCE to the s. The publication date is over 30 years so it would be interesting to read an updated revision of this book.
Sep 24, Arjun Ravichandran rated it really liked it. As the title indicates, this is an exposition on the role that food - its cultivation, enjoyment, transportation, and its politics - has played in history.
As the author notes in her introduction, for all our technological savvy and utopian visions of the approaching singularity, the fact remains that humanity is still not rid of its all-too-earthly dependence on food. The author begins by looking at the origin of the human species ; forced onto the treacherous Savannah by the retreating ice cap As the title indicates, this is an exposition on the role that food - its cultivation, enjoyment, transportation, and its politics - has played in history.
The author begins by looking at the origin of the human species ; forced onto the treacherous Savannah by the retreating ice caps, our primate ancestors evolved big brains and bipedal motion, the better to cooperate socially and chuck rocks at potential prey.
From these inauspicious beginnings and precarious technology, we stumbled upon agriculture - and with the burgeoning populations that this afforded, came the first administrative centers, the first vague sense of social unity, and eventually the first cities and civilizations. The author then looks at the food stuffs of the major civilizations from the ancient Mesopotamians, the Romans, the Chinese and the Indians - always making sure to delineate how the climate, availability of grain crops, and available technology determined the variety of food available to these ancient peoples, and also detailing how these burgeoning national cuisines dovetailed and commingled with an emerging national character.
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Food in History
Book review: “Food in History” by Reay Tannahill