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A History of Food

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  206 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The story of cuisine and the social history of eating is a fascinating one, and Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat covers all its aspects in this definitive history.
Hardcover, 801 pages
Published October 15th 1998 by Barnes & Noble books (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 971)
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Jim Chevallier
This is pretty much required reading for anyone with a serious interest in comprehensive food history. It is dense with information and carefully organized. My one big quibble is that Toussaint-Samat uses footnotes very sparingly. This is already frustrating when trying to track down some of her sources; it is all the worst when she passes on erroneous information. Which she unfortunately does on a number of occasions - Le Grand d'Aussy's distorted account of Charlemagne's cheese (which she furt ...more
Rebecca Huston
A whacking huge brick of a book, but if you're at all interested in culinary history, or want to know where an ingredient was first eaten and when, this book will tell you. Lots of pictures, lots of detail, this is one of my keepers.

For the more complete review, please go here:
I agree with a previous reviewer -- the focus is very euro-centric, with North America considered and Asia added as afterthoughts for some topics. However, thoroughly researched and terribly informational. I used it as a reference for a paper and found myself plowing through the rest of it out of sheer curiosity and interest.
Despite the Euro and Franco-centric scope of the book as broader history, this book contains fascinating food scholarship wrapped into cogent narrative morsels. Many people I know use it as a reference book but I couldn't put it down and read it cover-to-cover.
There should be an option 'unfinished". Overall, a very impressive collection of facts regarding foods. However it's a heavy read, and more like a collection of small books, each on one topic. I didn't find it entertaining enought to have it on my nighttable.

So although I won't read it entirely, I enjoy having it as a reference book on my food & cooking shelves and will have a look at it from time to time when I decide to know more about one food in particular.

On the down side... I am havi
It's very witty, informative and French, but it's awfully long--sometimes long-winded. Some things were skimmed. A great reference to have on your shelf; not so much a great thing to check out from the library. Something every foodie should own, anyway.
Tried to read this one mainly because JG Ballard had it on his bookshelf but got way too bogged down in it...finally gave up. Just too general, sprawling and scattershot for my liking...perhaps I'll try a more specific food-item book, like "Cod", or "Salt"...hmm, I'm getting hungry all of a sudden...
This book is fascinating and comprehensive, but is better dipped into over time than read end-to-end. It's a bit French-centric, and the section on spices is weak (and wrong in a few spots). It also ends abruptly with no effort to pull the full story together. More of a reference book.
A crazy mix of anthropology, history, classical allusions, anecdotes, commentary and cultural history all wrapped up in a robust love for gastronomy and a Franco-orientation. Delightful (and very very long) so long as you don't take as the gospel truth. Quite the fascinating read.
This had just the information I was looking for -- which is just what Publisher's Weekly didn't like about it. I wanted to find information about French food from medieval through 1800s, and there's quite a bit about that in here. Loved the mix of history and edibles.
Extremely enjoyable, but eventually got tired of using Bible verse as historical proof. Read first half then skimmed second half. A good resource if somewhat unreliable. See Amazon reviews.
This is pretty much required reading for anyone with a serious interest in comprehensive food history. It is dense with information and carefully organized.

A bit dry... not a book you pick up and walk around with, but a book you pick up and haul to the couch/bed/chair and read...then sleep.

Jan 22, 2011 Cody is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Delicious! MANY courses, served over many, many, many months! At 705 pages, I'll be salivating over this for some time to come I'm sure!
I've been waiting a long time for a book of this breadth. Pretty heavy on the frankophile perspective but that's to be expected.
As other reviewers have said, this is definitely Euro-centric. It is sometimes a little dry, but still pretty engaging.
Jan 28, 2008 Amy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This is more of a reference book, and it's about three inches thick, so maybe it will always stay on my to-read "shelf".
Świetna książka. Podział epok jest przejrzysty i nie ma dziwnych przeskoków jak w Encyklopedii głupoty.
I haven't finished this book but I will finish this book because it is FASCINATING.
This is a thorough and detailed reference book on the history of foods and food uses.
One of my favorite books - WOW! What a joy to read the history and evolution of food.
Charles Seluzicki
Just reading this updated (by Betty Fussell!) edition of a classic- Wow!
An excellent tome! Wish I could have read it all before I had to turn it in.
S.R. Dantzler
Jan 21, 2009 S.R. Dantzler is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff if you are a foodie!
Bryan Rucker
Nov 19, 2007 Bryan Rucker is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
this one's gonna take me a while...
An interesting read
Charlene marked it as to-read
May 22, 2015
Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes marked it as to-read
May 19, 2015
McKenzie Peterson
McKenzie Peterson marked it as to-read
May 18, 2015
K marked it as to-read
May 15, 2015
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