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Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
You may be what you eat, but you're also what you speak, and English food words tell a remarkable story about the evolution of our language and culinary history, revealing a vital collision of cultures alive and well from the time Caesar first arrived on British shores to the present day.

Words to Eat By explores the remarkable stories behind five of our most basic food wor
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 5th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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Nov 18, 2013 John rated it really liked it
I'm giving it four stars, because it's better than my good-but-not-great three, but gets dense enough in places to just miss an actual four star experience. The "Let's skim here" parts were mostly recipes from ancient times, and a few deep-in-the-weeds discussion of food related linguistic terms. Still, I'd rate this one as "Recommended". I'm definitely interested in more from the author!
Oct 17, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author is quite repetitive in her writing but there are some fascinating anecdotes about food name origins. I think her writing in the last two chapters was more relaxed and thus more enjoyable.

This was one of those books that was on the 14 day shelf and looked pretty interesting from the title and cover. It was OK.

I enjoyed the ideas presented. The tracing of words. The connection of food words to two separate linguistic pasts: Germanic and Latin. The comparison between our "public" foods to our "private" foods, what we eat when out and what we eat when home, what is "special" and what is "comfort." The dichotomy in the fledgling Christian religion between the Mediterranean,
Harley Gee
Aug 30, 2011 Harley Gee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, history
This was my favorite of the library new arrivals food trilogy. Lipkowitz writes about language that describes what we eat and the history behind these words. Usually there ends up being a barbarian/native influence (in what we now call England on the language that has become English) which is countered by a foreign (Roman, Christian, then Norman) influence. These foreign influences come from Mediterranean regions with richer food traditions than the barbaric north. The richer tradition includes ...more
Sandy D.
This is a somewhat repetitive but often enlightening history of food and language (not just the English language, despite the subtitle!).

Lipkowitz excels in combining disparate threads from a mostly European past, contrasting the British Isles and the Mediterranean, Romans and Celts, and haute cuisine and peasant food. I enjoyed the interweaving of Christianity's role in our modern American & English food preferences, too.

Apples, leeks, milk, meat and bread are featured, but these topics a
May 15, 2012 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, 2012
"Words to Eat By" is a fascinating, well-researched account of five words used in modern English to identify food: apple, leek, milk, meat, bread. Exploring the history of both the food and the word used to name it, author Ina Lipkowitz carries readers through the invasion-laden history of England, and by extension the English language, and strikes at the heart of why the words we use use to describe are food find their origins and their cultural implications in multiple languages and histories, ...more
I am somewhat interested in etymology and very interested in food history but I don't really know much about either subject. Almost all of the information in this book was new to me. It was a great lesson in cultural exchange and how conquest and colonization influenced the foods we eat and what we call our food.
T Crockett
Really interesting material for anyone with an interest in linguistics. It's really packed full of history and the connections our modern language has with that history.

I didn't finish the book, but I think sometime I will go back and do so. I was just in the mood for something a bit lighter
Jan 15, 2012 Sagagirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first essay is tremendous -- a lovely overview of how culinary words are made. The next essays are also wonderful, tho I found myself hearing the same patterns over and over.

Lovel history, well written.
Danielle Morency
Typically any book that dissects the evolution of the english language intrigues me. Although I enjoyed the revelation of certain homey words withstanding the influx of latin based languages, I wasn't fond of occasional repetitiveness and religious rhetoric.
May 30, 2013 Jenna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A good idea but it could have been executed better. Parts were amateurly written, and others needed some better editing - there was a lot of superficial analysis and repetitive assertions. But some fun and interesting facts nonetheless.
Bruce MacBain
Oct 06, 2011 Bruce MacBain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gastronomy meets linguistics in this interesting exploration of English food words and food preferences from Roman to modern times.
Beth Roberts
Mar 23, 2015 Beth Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun -- suffers from a chatty style that prefers a good story to a subtle distinction, but succeeds nonetheless. And now I know why it's called French toast.
Feb 25, 2012 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: food
That was a tremendous disappointment.
Mar 25, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not badly written, but for etymologists only.
Aug 28, 2012 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun for anyone interested in food, Western European history, and etymology.
Jun 03, 2014 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Each chapter of this book covered a different word- bread, meat, milk, leek and apple. I honestly can't remember very much about it. It definitely did not leave a lasting impression.
Edward Sullivan
Fascinating for foodies and anyone with interests in etymology or languages.
Christina  Taylor
Christina Taylor rated it really liked it
Jun 12, 2017
Graeme Williams
Graeme Williams rated it really liked it
Jul 21, 2012
Keith Solomon
Keith Solomon rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2013
Callifer rated it really liked it
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Dec 07, 2011
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Sep 14, 2012
Rachael rated it it was amazing
Nov 07, 2014
Alison rated it it was amazing
Jul 18, 2016
Suzan Pinkelman
Suzan Pinkelman rated it it was amazing
Jul 10, 2015
Sylvain Lanouette
Sylvain Lanouette rated it it was ok
Apr 08, 2012
Jeremy rated it liked it
Feb 28, 2012
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