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A History of English Food

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  190 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Insightful and entertaining by turns, this is a magnificent tour of nearly a thousand years of English cuisine, peppered with surprises and seasoned with Clarissa Dickson Wright's characteristic wit.

In this major new history of English food, Clarissa Dickson Wright takes the reader on a journey from the time of the Second Crusade and the feasts of medieval kings to the cui
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published October 13th 2011 by Random House UK
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Jan Yates (Hunter)
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
So much information about English food! Clarissa Dickson Wright knows her English Food Stuff. Fascinating.

I am an unabashed fan of The Two Fat Ladies - regularly watch the series for the witty banter as much as the delicious food and recently decided to get their cookbooks before they fall out of print. Clarissa brings the same tone and wit to this book. If you love The Two Fat Ladies, you'll love this. And if you've not yet experienced The Two Fat Ladies, but enjoy learning new things, food and
Julie Davis
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Clarissa Dickson Wright's take on history seen through the focus of food. There's just the right amount of Wright's personality included because she will occasionally break in and comment about ancient recipes she's tried or her thoughts on a particular practice. It is sprinkled with original texts from the past and it is interesting seeing what people liked enough to take the trouble to pass on to others. Definitely recommended to anyone with an interest in food and English histo ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun romp through English food.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
'A History of English Food' is a well-written and interesting look at the development of English food from the medieval period to the present day. Aimed at the general reader, it provides fun little historical facts, recipes and menus from a variety of eras, combined with the memories and recollections of the author.

In some ways, it is a book of two halves. The first half is very much historically focussed. The second half, dealing with the world wars onwards, contains far more personal recolle
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
My Mum bought this book for me -- it's really a fascinating read, even if you're not a cooking maniac. I like the author (from seeing her on various TV shows) and she has a great voice when writing. The book's very engaging - she links history and social things excellently with the food history and makes connections I'd never thought of. Also I could see this being an interesting resource for anyone wanting to add some historical flavour (and pun intended) to a historical or fantasy novel.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mildly boring, but some learning and enjoyment did occur.
Sean Audain
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clarissa’s chatty, anecdotal style is used to full effect in this journey through English food history. The book is strong on medieval and Georgian food culture with the narrative picking up speed noticeably during the Victorian age so that the twentieth century is dealt with at a gallop. The historical nature of the book changes with this pace so that the later part of the book is less history and more summarised autobiography. Happily the frank style of the author lets her get away with it (ju ...more
Katy Noyes
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love social history, and the history of food in our country really is an interesting one.

I listened to Clarissa narrating her own book, and while she's a personable enough reader, the material does get somewhat dry at times. Maybe reading on paper would be a better way of connecting with and taking in everything she has to impart.

Some really fascinating insights - I found the Middle Age/Tudor, Victorian and the 20th Century sections the most, there is a lot there I never knew before - the hist
This didn't really take me 2.5 months to read.

Well, it did, but only because I put it down for 2.25 months in the middle.

I started reading it (and read about half of it) in hard copy, from a copy borrowed from my parents. Then, when I realised I didn't really want to carry it around with me, I put the ebook on the hold list at the library, and waited. And waited. And waited. And when it finally arrived, I devoured the second half in about a day.

And now for the book itself.

Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm not often a food reader, so a lot of what Clarissa had to say was new. I enjoyed her feisty opinions and the holistic nature of the information presented; she spoke about the rulers of the day, and how their tastes and nationalities affected food consumption, and also the writers of influential cook books through the ages. To me, this is more of a reference work than something to read straight through, though I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it all within a week or so. I've ordered the hard ...more
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one. It was easy to read with a delightfully conversational turn of phrase. While the chronology meanders a bit, the writing is well paced and the progression through history is still roughly linear and reasonably well organised. Dotted throughout are literary references and excerpts, as well as scraps of recipes from various periods.

Four stars. Go read it, and don't forget to check out the appendix of historical recipes at the end of the book.
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, history, non-fiction
Reading this book is kind of like hanging out with one of your favourite cantankerous great-aunts sneaking cigarettes in the garden and making snarky comments about the goings-on of a large family gathering. It's a breezy read, which doesn't cover any new ground if you have read any other popular histories of common foods. Which is fine. If you like food and think CDW is an occasionally problematic national treasure, you'll enjoy skimming this book.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I listened to the audiobook read by the author - rather a dull style of narration, but I was sufficiently interested in the subject to stick with it to the end. I wouldn't recommend this book to a vegetarian, its very very flesh-focussed! But a fascinating and informative history of influences on the British diet since medieval times.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you like food and history then this is the book for you.
The late great Clarissa Dickson-wright was a consummate and knowledgeable cook and this book just confirms that. She wrights about the history and development of British cooking in an engaging way but there's no dumbing down. A go-to history of food and cooking. Excellent.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable book, with her characteristic wit and enthusiasm . . . and despite her disdain for Victorian food. Her erudition is impressive--how many Agricultural Revolution heroes to you have? She has three! And can name their adaptations of the plow.
M.L. Keller
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. Any fan of Two Fat Ladies will immediately recognize Clarissa's distinct voice in the prose. It's like she standing in your kitchen chatting away as you both stuff the Cornish hens.

Singleton Mosby
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This has been a most interesting read which tempts me to read more about the subject of food through history. Next to that cooking becomes more fun after reading CDWs work, which is a big plus. Can't wait to start watch "Two fat ladies" as well. Ah, the enjoyment of good food!
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Difficult to keep attention..
Stephen Cave
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. I'll never look at a pie the same way again.
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
Clarissa is such a gifted writer. She has a lot of personal anecdotes to add as well as a great wealth of knowledge. I love reading her books.
Yuki Shimmyo
Feb 26, 2012 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Yuki Shimmyo by: S. Cameron
Sophie Dyson
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Jul 18, 2017
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Stephanie Diaz
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Dec 28, 2013
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Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright is an English celebrity chef and food historian who is best known as one half, along with Jennifer Paterson, of the Two Fat Ladies. Having trained as a lawyer, at the age of 21, Dickson Wright passed her exams and became the country's youngest barrister. She is also one of only two women in England ...more
“What we would think of as a beef animal had the double purpose of being a working or draught animal that could pull heavy loads. There is an old adage, "A year to grow, two years to plough and a year to fatten." The beef medieval people would have eaten would have been a maturer, denser meat than we are used to today. I have always longed to try it. The muscle acquired from a working ox would have broken down over the fattening year and provided wonderful fat covering and marbling. Given the amount of brewing that took place, the odds are that the animals would have been fed a little drained mash from time to time. Kobe beef, that excessively expensive Japanese beef, was originally obtained from ex-plough animals whose muscles were broken down by mash from sake production and by massage. I'd like to think our beef might have had a not dissimilar flavour.” 2 likes
“By the middle of Henry VIII's reign, the white meats — that is, dairy products — were considered common fare and people from all classes would eat meat whenever they could get it.” 0 likes
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