368 pages, 97 colour & 138 b/w illustrations
This richly illustrated book is the first to apply the discoveries of the new generation of food historians to the pleasures of dining and the culinary accomplishments of diverse civilizations, past and present. Editor Paul Freedman has gathered essays by French, German, Belgian, American, and British historians to present a comprehensive, chronological history of taste from prehistory to the present day.
The authors explore the early repertoire of sweet tastes; the distinctive contributions made by classical antiquity and China; the subtle, sophisticated, and varied group of food customs created by the Islamic civilizations of Iberia, the Arabian desert, Persia, and Byzantium; the magnificent cuisine of the Middle Ages, influenced by Rome and adapted from Islamic Spain, Africa, and the Middle East; the decisive break with highly spiced food traditions after the Renaissance and the new focus on primary ingredients and products from the New World; French cuisine's rise to dominance in Europe and America; the evolution of modern restaurant dining, modern agriculture, and technological developments; and today's tastes, which employ few rules and exhibit a glorious eclecticism. The result is the enthralling story not only of what sustains us but also of what makes us feel alive.
"[...] a fascinating and ambitious look at why we eat what we eat [...] I couldn't put it down"
– Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief Gourmet magazine
"A savoury collection [...] splendidly illustrated [...] the perfect present for the curious foodie in your life"
– The Observer
Introduction: A New History of Cuisine
1. Hunter-Gatherers and the First Farmers
2. The Good Things That Lay at Hand
3. The Quest for Perfect Balance
4. The Pleasures of Consumption
5. Feasting and Fasting
6. New Worlds, New Tastes
7. The Birth of the Consumer Age
8. Chefs, Gourmets and Gourmands
9. Dining Out
10. Novelty and Tradition - The New Landscape for Gastronomy
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Paul Freedman is Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University and former Chairman of the Department of History there. He is also the author of Images of the Medieval Peasant, which won the 2002 Haskins Medal from the Medieval Academy of America.