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Bread: A Global History (Reaktion Books - Edible) Hardcover – October 15, 2011
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"100 Million Years of Food" by Stephen Le
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food. Learn more
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About the Author
William Rubel lives in Santa Cruz, California, and is a freelance food historian. He has been making bread since he was eleven years old and for the last ten years he has been studying the history of bread. He is the author of The Magic of Fire: Cooking on the Open Hearth.
More About the Author
He is currently working on two projects, an expanded history of bread, and a revision of his annotated volume, The French Gardiner (1654) by Nioolas de Bonnefons. To learn more about William visit his web site at www.williamrubel.com. Thank you.
Top Customer Reviews
The primary thesis is that bread is more than merely a food or a summary of ingredients: it is also a concept. Mr. Rubel strives to enlarge the way we think about bread by taking us on a bread tour across time and through international space. He is a serious food historian, excellent cook and baker, and the author of The Magic of Fire--an encyclopedic book of fire cooking, which is sadly now out of print.
As culture develops, bread becomes a social marker--the whiter the bread, the more desirable it is. The poor consumed a more primitive loaf--darker and less desirable. Fashions in food are generally guided by a wish to imitate what is eaten by the wealthy. This still tends to be true. Although the history of bread can be seen as a steady march toward whiter and finer flour, today consumers are being drawn to more primitive ingredients and techniques because of our awareness of the enhanced flavors and healthy characteristics of whole grains.
The book emphasizes leavened, kneaded dough, but also includes relevant information on flatbreads, pancakes and shortbreads. Mr. Rubel dispels the myth that cooking over a fire is a "primitive" activity. He appreciates that the campfire provides an "infinitely nuanced oven" for baking breads at different levels of heat. If the baker knows how to manage a fire properly, he has a far greater range of temperatures available to him than he does in the modern conventional oven.Read more ›
I was impressed with the quality of writing, an effective combination of intensive scholarship, cosmopolitan experience and friendly conversation. I was surprised to learn that some older practices had survived longer in the US than in the original European countries.
The book distinguishes itself from general bread recipe books, although it contains several detailed and unusual (horse-bread!) recipes. What sets it apart from other such books is its attention to the role played by bread in society. There are discussions of breadmaking as a cultural activity, and the attitudes of many different cultures toward bread, as well as the status distinctions between light or dark, loafed or flat, and crusted or soft breads. Also treated is the importance of bread in diet throughout history; whether it is a vitally necessary staple, or just an accessory to more lavish menus.
The inclusion of this book in a series (The Edible Series) dictates its small size; I look forward to the planned larger version.
It's probably good to mention that while the book does contain some recipes, it's not a cookbook. Which is what I like about this book. It's a good story that runs from beginning to end, inviting you to explore the vast world of bread making.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Book, for anyone interested on the history and anecdotes about bread and mainly the wheat. Iliked it very much. Great for a present too !Published 15 months ago by Humberto Bolanos
I was disappointed with this book. I'd read the Sandwich one first and it was much more interesting. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Amazon Customer