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Consuming Passions: A History of English Food and Appetite
In this age of convenience food, one may look back on the past with envy. The luxury of the Romans, for whom eating and sex (often conducted simultaneously) allayed life's boredom; the sumptuous variety of the Middle Ages; the glittering dining tables of wealthy Victorians and Edwardians: was their cuisine really better, or simply more self-indulgent? In Consuming Passions ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Penguin Books
(first published January 7th 1971)
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Pullar traces the origins of English food to the time of Roman rule, swooping through the weird middle ages to modern times. I was astonished by this book and most of its material was almost completely new to me. I had no idea of the importance of the French influence on our cuisine, and it was fun to learn about the unlikely-sounding combinations - such as fish and figs - that people enjoyed in the past.
Far from scholarly, only partly what the title claims, rather scattily written with a lot of anecdotes gleaned from anyone at all over the past two thousand years and no doubt an accurate reflection of what was by all accounts the slightly mad-cap and impulsive personna of the author, this is still a highly entertaining and at times informative read from which might be understood that if humanity has made any progress it's at the expense of individual pleasure, wit and joie-de-vivre. From a dank ...more
The information in this book is SO interesting, so it's a shame it's so poorly written. Filled with anecdotal information that at time seems completely irrelevant to the story, with only some semblance of a coherent structure. If this book was more methodical and clearly intertwined it would be less cumbersome to read and thus be a much more enjoyable recount of the history of food. Too bad it's not, and so what would otherwise be an enjoyable read is only saved by a fascinating wealth of inform ...more