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A History of Food in 100 Recipes Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316229970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316229975
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


What a splendid book: it manages to be a recipe collection, a history of cooking and, in passing, a history of the world all at once.—Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses and An Edible History of Humanity

Sitwell is without doubt one of the great food writers of our day. Every serious cook should read this book at least once.—Marco Pierre White

Almost every sentence of his scrupulously researched and breezily confident book oozes with a passion for eating...what it has over all its predecessors is structural as well as stylish: a pick-up-and-smile quality.—The Times

William Sitwell has pulled off something clever: a thoroughly researched and witty history that is both compelling and teeming with scholarly facts...you don't even need to be a raging foodie to enjoy this.—The Observer

An enjoyably meandering and thought-provoking journey through the role of cooking in everyday life...this title ought to interest foodies, especially Anglophiles -- Library Journal

Sitwell elevates this collection from curious cookbook to a serious study -- Publisher's Weekly

Sitwell deftly inserts interesting tidbits ranging from the changes wrought by such appliances as refrigerators and gas stoves to the impact of online technology...Good fun -- Kirkus Reviews

"Quirky, entertaining, educational and downright gastronomic good fun...Sitwell's flawless presentation makes this a delightful treat full of interesting if little remembered facts. Anyone with an interest in food or history will enjoy this colorful, thoroughly researched tour through time, fads and groceries."—--Sandy Amazeen, Monsters and Critics

"A generous tasting menu that evokes the people, places, influences, intrigues, and inventions that have guided the story of food through the millennia."
-- Elle Magazine

What food lovers will be reading at the beach; the format delivers culture in fascinating, digestible chunks.—The Washington Post

A captivating romp through time punctuated with recipes—SimplyRecipes.com

About the Author

William Sitwell is the editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine, can regularly be seen on TV programs such as BBC2's Food & Drink and Masterchef: The Professionals, and writes about food for a variety of newspapers and magazines. Following an early career in newspapers, he came to prominence in the food world after 1999 when he joined the then titled Waitrose Food Illustrated, of which he became editor in 2002. He subsequently won a string of awards, including "Editor of the Year" in 2005, for the magazine's writing, stories, design and photography. He spends his spare time growing vegetables, cooking, and making cider at his home in Northamptonshire, England, where he lives with his wife, Laura, and their children, Alice and Albert. This is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

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Michael Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes, tells a story.
Donald McKenzie
The tone is very chatty, though I would have appreciated some copy-editing to reduce the number of incomplete sentences!
I enjoyed reading A History of Food very much and know I will refer to it often.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By I. Darren on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is clearly a product of love, much research and thought and hopefully the reader will cherish it with similar affection. Despite its title, there are not 100 recipes and neither are many of the recipes something you will probably try for a family meal, but don't let that put you off!

Here the author delves back through time and a myriad of recipe books and food books that have been published, wryly noting that many contain similar boastful, self-indulgent claims about their breadth, uniqueness or completeness as those that often appear today. The fruits of the author's labour are presented as a celebratory, knowledgeable, information and yet concise look at 100 dishes, many of which are still popular today (albeit with some modification at times) and many that may have fell by the culinary wayside.

Starting from Ancient Egyptian bread and working in a chronological order the reader is treated to such items as Roast Goat (30 BC), Pasta (1154), tips on party planning (1420), Hot Chocolate (1568) and even a revelation as to how the Englishman discovered the fork (1611). Time and food development marches on and in the past century featured dishes include Strawberry ice-cream soda, Toad-in-the-Hole, Omelette, Cheese Fondue, Fairy Cakes and Sweet and Sour Pork. For one reason or another, which will become clearer to the reader, the author has selected each recipe and pinned it to a specific place in the chronology for a reason. It might be due to an historical event, a "new" cook book or other writing, a new development or even due to a craze.

Truly a quirky, interesting, innovative and thought-provoking series of friendly, informative mini essays.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Shelley on June 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm a sucker for any book on the history of food since I love to cook and the origin of the recipes fascinates me.

The recipes in this book range from ancient ones for bread to more modern offerings like Asian salads, Steamed salmon with couscous and Fairy cakes. The earlier recipes are not recipes as we know them, and I wouldn't recommend trying them even if you could source the ingredients, but they're interesting none the less. Mr. Sitwell tells us stories of the past and the people who influenced food and wrote recipe books. We learn of the first known use of the recipes, the available equipment, and the interesting social details that give us a clear picture of the past. The book is written in a chatty manner with dry humor. It's a book meant to be taken in small bites rather than read in one or two long gulps.

I enjoyed reading A History of Food very much and know I will refer to it often. The more modern recipes are ones I will make--in fact I've tried a couple already. I found this book interesting and learned lots of things I hadn't previously known. A History of Food is the perfect book to give to a keen foodie as a birthday, Christmas or surprise gift. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cissa on August 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have not yet finished this book, but I'm up to #40 and am really adoring it.

The recipes are not necessarily recipes that one could set out to make. They are historical, and sometimes obscure or almost impossible for us moderns.

Also, much of the time the "recipe" is used merely as an introduction to an area of cooking that has not generally been documented.

The tone of the book is gossipy,in the best way. While I am not fond of the partial sentences- I do like the chatty tone; it's like inviting the author to a dinner party where he goes off on tangents that are interesting and may or may not address the food!

This does make it a lot of fun to read, and it's great for reading piecemeal.

There are some recipes that I would really love to make... but that's not the reason to read this; it's definitely more about the history of food and cooking. I find this fascinating, and the author is very entertaining in his writing.

Recommended for food nerds, especially, or for dedicated cooks. I just learned when the pressure cooker was invented!

I will add more notes to this as I proceed through the book.

Addendum 1: I am personally VERY intrigued that the first published recipe for puff pastry dough is actually a recipe for eht "quick-and-dirty" version! it makes sense, because the baker's roots were in making pies, and the q&d puff paste is sort of a cross between modern laminated puff pastry and piecrust. The recipe cited is pretty much identical to the ones I've used myself.

Addendum 2: The hollandaise sauce recipe here does not include egg yolks! It's just butter and lemon juice and seasoning. I will have to try it.

Addendum 3: I have now made the no-yolk hollandaise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Chen on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With a few exceptions, this was a British-centric view of food history. I don't think it's particularly limiting though, to be British-centered, because the history of food has a lot to do with colonialization, the spice trade, the discovery of the Americas, and modern multiculturalism.

If you like Clarissa Dickson Wright's series "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner" you might really enjoy this book.
And if you're a foodie that enjoyed "A history of the world in 100 objects" you might also really enjoy this book.
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