Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
This book is a crash course in world history, told through the development of cuisine in various cultures. It is actually a fascinating study and a novel theme. More than a history of food movements, it details the evolution of eating and cooking throughout the ages and throughout the world.
Most of the world’s cuisines are based on grains, but different ones depending on the geography. Within each area, cuisines of high and low developed; high for the wealthy and powerful, low for the peasant and commoner. Eventually, some areas developed a ‘middling’ cuisine, one that had more variety and stability, and nutrition, than the low, but nowhere near the expense of the high. As empires rose and fell, cooking techniques and styles, as well as actual food plants and animals, were transported around and across the globe. For various reasons, some techniques and foods were favored and others eschewed, while some cuisines adapted to be more inclusive of new food ways.
Exhaustively detailed and thoroughly researched, the text is dense and the book is long, but still surprisingly readable and entertaining. There is a lot of information here, but it is well and engagingly covered. It is a good look at the history of the world from this unique angle.
|University of Californina Press
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