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Food: A Culinary History

by Jean-Louis Flandrin, Massimo Montanari and Albert Sonnenfeld Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 624 pages
AU$74.99 NZ$78.25
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When did the custom of meals served at regular hours begin? At what time did humankind rise to the table and commence eating with individual plates and utensils? Since when have we begun to speak of 'cuisine' and to judge our foods, their methods of preparation, and manner of consumption on social criteria of gastronomic merit? In this rich, illuminating book an array of authorities explore the history of food from prehistoric times to the present day. In the process, they dispel many of the myths about our culinary heritage that food lovers have come to take for granted: Those who believe pasta originated in China and was brought to Venice by Marco Polo will find another story here. The notion that flaky pastry dough was invented by Claude Lorrain is shown to be a spurious auxiliary to the renowned seventeenth-century painter's resume. The illusion that paté de foie gras was invented in Strasbourg, France in 1788 is shattered by evidence of its existence much earlier in the eighteenth century. The original recipe for chocolate -- served as a beverage -- contained chili instead of sugar, and the eventual addition of sugar by the Spanish made both sugar and chocolate hot items throughout Europe. In the course of this major intellectual endeavor the writers explore dietary rules of ancient Hebrews and the contributions of Arabic cookery to European cuisine, detail the table etiquette of the Middle Ages and the beverages of colonial America. They reflect on the McDonaldization of culture and on the burgeoning popularity of foreign foods in our times. Food: A Culinary History is a testament to the diversity of human cultures across the centuries. Exploring culinary evolution and eating habits in a cornucopia of cultures from ancient Mesopotamia to modern America, from the Byzantine Empire to Jewish Mediterranean culture in the Middle Ages, the book is a rich banquet for readers. Culinary customs, the writers reveal, offer great insight into societies past and present -- from agriculture to social life, from religious beliefs to our most unreflected habits. Consider the development of the use of individual place settings in the Middle Ages -- as one writer here contends, the Black Plague may have been responsible in large measure for the decline of communal dining and the increase of space between diners. Introducing the history of food into the realm of popular discussion, Food: A Culinary History is an extraordinary reading experience, a delicious intellectual feast for food lovers around the world.

Introduction to the Original Edition
One: Prehistory and Early Civilizations
Introduction: The Humanization of Eating Behaviors, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
1. Feeding Strategies in Prehistoric Times, by Catherine Perles
2. The Social Function of Banquets in the Earliest Civilizations, by Francis Joannes
3. Food Culture in Ancient Egypt, by Edda Bresciani
4. Biblical Reasons: The Dietary Rules of the Ancient Hebrews, by Jean Soler
5. The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians: The Early Mediterranean Diet, by Antonella Spano Giammellaro
Two: The Classical World
Introduction: Food Systems and Models of Civilization, by Massimo Montanari
6. Urban and Rural Diets in Greece, by Marie-Claire Amouretti
7. Greek Meals: A Civic Ritual, by Pauline Schmitt-Pantel
8. The Culture of the Symposium, by Massimo Vetta
9. The Diet of the Etruscans, by Giuseppe Sassatelli
10. The Grammar of Roman Dining, by Florence Dupont
11. The Broad Bean and the Moray: Social Hierarchies and Food in Rome, by Mireille Corbier
12. Diet and Medicine in the Ancient World, by Innocenzo Mazzini
13. The Food of Others, by Oddone Longo
Three: From the Late Classical Period to the Early Middle Ages (Fifth--Tenth Centuries)
Introduction: Romans, Barbarians, Christians--The Dawn of European Food Culture, by Massimo Montanari
14. Production Structures and Food Systems in the Early Middle Ages, by Massimo Montanari
15. Peasants, Warriors, Priests: Images of Society and Styles of Diet, by Massimo Montanari
Four: Westerners and Others
Introduction: Food Models and Cultural Identity, by Massimo Montanari
16. Christians of the East: Rules and Realities of the Byzantine Diet, by Ewald Kislinger
17. Arab Cooking and Its Contribution to European Culture, by Bernard Rosenberger
18. Mediterranean Jewish Diet and Traditions in the Middle Ages, by Miguel-Angel Motis Dolader
Five: The Late Middle Ages (Eleventh--Fourteenth Centuries)
Introduction: Toward a New Dietary Balance, by Massimo Montanari
19. Society, Food, and Feudalism, by Antoni Riera-Melis
20. Self-Sufficiency and the Market: Rural and Urban Diet in the Middle Ages, by Alfio Cortonesi
21. Food Trades, by Francoise Desportes
22. The Origins of Public Hostelries in Europe, by Hans Conrad Peyer
23. Medieval Cooking, by Bruno Laurioux
24. Food and Social Classes in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, by Allen J. Grieco
25. Seasoning, Cooking, and Dietetics in the Late Middle Ages, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
26. "Mind Your Manners": Etiquette at the Table, by Daniela Romagnoli
27. From Hearth to Table: Late Medieval Cooking Equipment, by Francoise Piponnier
Six: The Europe of Nation-States (Fifteenth--Eighteenth Centuries)
Introduction: The Early Modern Period, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
28. Growing without Knowing Why: Production, Demographics, and Diet, by Michel Morineau
29. Colonial Beverages and the Consumption of Sugar, by Alain Huetz de Lemps
30. Printing the Kitchen: French Cookbooks, 1480--1800, by Philip Hyman and Mary Hyman
31. Dietary Choices and Culinary Technique, 1500--1800, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
32. From Dietetics to Gastronomy: The Liberation of the Gourmet, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
Seven: The Contemporary Period (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries)
Introduction: From Industrial Revolution to Industrial Food, by Jean-Louis Flandrin
33. The Transformation of the European Diet, by Hans Jurgen Teuteberg and Jean-Louis Flandrin
34. The Invasion of Foreign Foods, by Yves Pehaut
35. The Rise of the Restaurant, by Jean-Robert Pitte
36. The Food Industry and New Preservation Techniques, by Giorgio Pedrocco
37. The Taste for Canned and Preserved Food, by Alberto Capatti
38. The Emergence of Regional Cuisines, by Julia Csergo
39. The Perils of Abundance: Food, Health, and Morality in American History, by Harry A. Levenstein
40. The "McDonaldization" of Culture, by Claude Fischler
Conclusion: Today and Tomorrow, by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari

Food: A Culinary History stands as a remarkable achievement.
Jean-Louis Flandrin is professor emeritus at the University of Paris VIII-Vincennes. Massimo Montanari is professor of medieval history and the history of food at the Institute of Paleography and Medieval Studies, University of Bologna.