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Bread: A Global History (Reaktion Books - Edible) Hardcover – October 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Reaktion Books - Edible
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (October 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861898541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861898548
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fun, smartly written series appropriate for a popular audience that likes to eat . . . the Edible series books provide level-headed and enjoyable overviews of food culture . . . These will create a little library that any foodie will be proud to show off . . . aesthetically pleasing volumes with decent content that would make good presents.”
Winterthur Portfolio, on the Edible series


(Winterthur Portfolio )

“Through Rubel’s eyes, this seemingly simply category of food—a side to any dish and vehicle for any topping—tells a cultural history of humans from the center of the table. . . . Rubel clearly has a deep fascination for the world of bread, and will give a taste of that same fascination to readers.”

(Abi Stokes Newcity )

“A cute 150 page history of baking, from Mesopotamia to the present. . . . Neither too light nor total fluff.”

(The Fresh Loaf )

Bread: A Global History is an informative and lighthearted book about our staff of life. The book is slender to the hand, but packed with history, facts, and stories. . . . Fascinating.”

(In Mama's Kitchen )

“In discussing bread one can ‘find oneself talking about some of the largest issues of history and society,’ as William Rubel notes in his sprightly primer . . . [he] is well versed in early history and archaeology . . . engaging as well as controversial.”

(Wall Street Journal )

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

William Rubel is an author living in Santa Cruz, California. He writes on a wide range of subjects. His two books are The Magic of Fire, the book on hearth cooking, and most recently, Bread, a global history. William writes for Mother News where he has published articles on hearth cooking, making butter at home, the fabulous heirloom Italian corn, Floriani Red Flint, and how to make wonderful simple breads at home. William wrote a piece for Economic Botany, the journal of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on the edibility of Amanita muscaria -- the red mushroom with white dots that is so commonly found on the forest floor in children's illustrations but really does exist in real life, too. In Gastronomica William has published on the breads that were prepared In the English journal, the Petit Propos Culinaire, he published the first English translation of the the fabulous breads found in the early French Cookbook, Les délices de la campagne,by Nicolas de Bonnefons for the first time since the 1600s making this rare set of recipes available to wider audience.

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.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
Beautifully written, amazing photos and artwork, fascinating story!
Bill Cunningham
The inclusion of this book in a series (The Edible Series) dictates its small size; I look forward to the planned larger version.
Kaikhosru
Mr. Rubel dispels the myth that cooking over a fire is a "primitive" activity.
Mercy Ingraham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mercy Ingraham on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bread: A Global History begins with ancient history in the fertile crescent of the Red Sea. The use of wild grains in bread-making probably predated agriculture and the domestication of animals. This book, which is the 24th in a series of edible histories, is ably edited by Andrew F. Smith.

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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kaikhosru on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I pretty much devoured, if that's the right word, this book at one sitting; it prompted in me an uncontrollable impulse to eat bread, which I did (my current choice is Trader Joe's three-seed sourdough toast slathered with sesame oil). I had just finished reading Walter Emery's Archaic Egypt, where beer is mentioned, but not bread, so the first chapter supplied a lot that was missing there, especially the connections between beer and bread, and Egyptian portrayals of the process.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Cunningham on February 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautifully written, amazing photos and artwork, fascinating story! A book to treasure, a real gem! Rubel guides readers from ancient Egypt to the modern-day kitchen with concise, graceful prose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jarkko Laine on May 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book I return to again and again when I need to check facts on the history of bread making, be it ideas or good stories.

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.
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