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Food: The History of Taste (California Studies in Food and Culture #21)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
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 fr ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 7th 2007 by University of California Press (first published 2007)
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Jul 10, 2015 Laurie rated it really liked it
This lavishly illustrated book on food through the ages is a fairly scholarly account. Each of the ten sections is written by a different author, a specialist in the era and area. The editor himself is a history professor, one of whose specialties is medieval cuisine. Starting with hunter-gatherers and early farming, the book takes us through Greece and Rome, Imperial Chine, medieval Islamic foods and customs, the European Middle Ages, post Renaissance and the foods from the new world, the chang ...more
With plenty of beautiful images, each chapter by a different author paints a picture of a unique period in food history. We begin with hunter-gatherers; proceed through geographically-specific historical foodways accounts of ancient Greece, Rome, China and the Middle East, focusing more so on the cuisines of Europe from the Middle Ages through the 19th Century; and end with discussions of gastronomy, dining out, and the future of food.

While I appreciated the many works of art, material culture,
Heather Shaw
Nov 04, 2008 Heather Shaw rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
What is taste? Is it that those who eat raw meat are commonly called barbarians? Or that British and American cuisine is considered bland by most of the rest of the world? That Hindus won’t eat meat, but Mohammed called it “the lordliest food of the people.” What makes rotten milk a delicacy in one part of the world and revolting in another? And why was chili an important condiment in Central America, but failed to impress the tribes of the north?

“[T]he idea that a society’s soul is revealed by
This collection of chapters by different academic authors reflects the uneveness that comes with such an approach. And there is a lot over overviewing and summarizing of the literature going on.

On the other hand, it's good overviewing and many of the details and quotes from original sources are very interesting. There is indeed a focus on taste and in particular moments when gastronomy and the aesthetics of food become especially important to a culture. The chapter on China was fascinating. Def
Sep 21, 2009 Aki rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-foods
A good book with many interesting perspectives. I certainly learned some very interesting things and now have some ancient cookbooks to hunt down. I was hoping for more insight into the how and why of taste and not just the what.. but I suppose that may be a difficult thing to research. My one complaint about this book (especially in the chapters that focus on French Cuisine) is regarding the relatively large number of French words and phrases that were not translated. I found it distracting and ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Madalin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un periplu interesant ce porneste de la bucataria antichitatii si sfarseste analizand efectele globalizarii asupra artei culinare.

Un singur rand face referire la bucataria romaneasca: "Mouzakkas-urile din bucatariile lui (restaurantului Romano's din Londra) sunt cele mai bune pe care le-am mancat in afara Bucurestiului."

O recomand oricarui gurmand. Vei descoperi cu siguranta foarte multe lucruri noi despre evolutia bucatariei.
Feb 08, 2012 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Not terribly coherent as a collection, but very informative. I would not describe it as entertaining, but each chapter was interesting, well-researched, and deliciously detailed. Suitable for long reading but less useful as impromptu reference.
Jun 17, 2009 Imogen rated it really liked it
Only at the start of this one (we're still in prehistoric times) but already I am finding it fascinating.
Jul 26, 2011 Kerith rated it liked it
A big and beautiful book of essays and photos, chronicling the history of food and taste. The essays are written by various authors so some are more interesting than others.
Mar 20, 2012 Loraine rated it really liked it
Although academic, this book is written in a most accessible style. I found each essay engrossing and well-written. Great bibliography--I've read Being Dead Is No Excuse as a result of said bib!
Aug 24, 2009 Pancha rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history, food
Essays about taste from various cultures including prehistorical, Classical Greek, Belle Epoch Europe, etc.
Nov 27, 2008 Jenni rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
This was a birthday present, and I gotta say, I LERVE it! The essays are fantastic, and the thing itself is gorgeous. My foodie heart rejoices.
Ruby Ann
Jan 31, 2012 Ruby Ann rated it it was amazing
Reading this for one of my classes. Thought it would be boring but in essence it actually ties everything together about how and why we cook the way we do today. Great book.
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Paul H. Freedman is the Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University. He specializes in medieval social history, the history of Spain, the study of medieval peasantry, and medieval cuisine.

His 1999 book Images of the Medieval Peasant won the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal.


Professor Freedman specializes in medieval social history, the history of Spain, comparative studie
More about Paul Freedman...

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