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Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (California Studies in Food and Culture) Paperback – April 3, 2015
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"Laudan knows more about the world history of cooking than any other scholar alive . . . organized by a theoretical framework that structures her argument. " (Melanie DuPuis, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2014).
"Wonderful . . . There is nothing argumentative or prescriptive about her book . . . but in our current American historical moment it seems breathtakingly transgressive . . .What I appreciate about Laudan is her perspective." (Lydia Kiesling in The Millions, 01-28-2014).
"During my forty year culinary career, there have been a select number of books that became touchstones, volumes that seemed to arrive just when inspiration was needed or direction was appropriate, books that somehow enhanced my sense of having found my calling. The newest addition to the list is a work of culinary history by Rachel Laudan."--Virginia B. Wood"The Austin Chronicle, on the range" (10/17/2013)
From the Inside Flap
Magnificent. . . . Some of Laudan’s diffusion maps’ of particular styles of cuisine are miniature masterpieces of cultural history. Peter Thonemann, Times Literary Supplement
"Rachel Laudan combines an impressive grasp of global history with a deep appreciation of the world's cuisines in all their glorious diversity. Readers who love food will find Cuisine and Empire both informative and entertaining." Daniel Headrick, author of Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present
"Few writers could tackle the sweeping subject matter of Cuisine and Empire with such grace and authority as Rachel Laudan. She rises to this challenge with fresh insights and a global perspective on our attitudes to food. This book is not to be missed by food historians and lovers of good eating." Anne Willan, author of The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook
Rachel Laudan offers a remarkable and always fascinating account of the rise and fall of cuisines, giving equal time to every part of the globe and situating the modern period within the much longer history of how people have gone about preparing food. The focus on cooking and cuisine demonstrates the durability of tastes, but also how such tastes are spread and influenced by political and cultural expansion. Cuisine and Empire is a riveting and unique combination of culinary ideas and exposition on the materiality of eating.” Paul Freedman, editor of Food: The History of Taste
In this groundbreaking book, Rachel Laudan takes a distinctive approach to the development and expression of food cultures throughout human history. She describes successive models of foodways that illuminate different periods and places, underpinned by persuasive historical analysis. Both general readers and professional historians will feel challenged by her arguments to integrate food and its culture into their thinking about human history, not just as an afterthought but as an essential tool of understanding and explanation.” Naomi Duguid, author of Burma: Rivers of Flavor
Top Customer Reviews
This book is also very well written--Dr. Laudan is a real stylist.
Everyone interested in a thorough, deep history of food needs to read this work!
The farmer does not give us food. “A sheaf of wheat is no more food,” she asserts, “than a boll of cotton is a garment.” It is a major theme of the book that farming may give us raw materials, but techniques (and importantly, ideas -- “culinary philosophy,” as she has it) of cooking are what give us food. It is, thus, futile to go on about how “natural” this or that foodstuff may be; we no more tear meat from bone with our teeth than we use them to grind the grass seeds that became our corn (maize, or wheat, or whatnot). Human labor, and ingenuity, stand between Nature and dinner. (This is even true of “raw” foods.)
Laudan suggests that, by definition, all food is processed food -- from developing the techniques of settled agriculture to the promotion (or prohibition) of certain foods according to ideas (nicely summarized in tables 1.1-1.5) about such things as the four humors, the four or five elements, maintaining harmony in the universe, and sacrality -- and, more recently, as the songwriter said, while “We Are Eating Foods for Health.” (Modern theories of health and diet turn out to be just the latest in a whole series of fashions which change with the checkered changes of ideas in science and cosmology, since Babylon as it were.)
Food may be “good to think,” but in any case it is not just material fuel, it is a thing shaped by ideas and their changes.Read more ›
I received a copy from the San Francisco Book Review in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We'll researched, very Informative. Presentation is flat and reads like a college essay assignment.Published 6 months ago by herbert e patton
This is a fascinating book about food and society. Food and the way we eat and socialize around our daily bread is a changing but continuous tale. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Linda F. Greenberg
I teach world history - this book gives an interesting twist on history...Published 10 months ago by bkmck
it is a very detailed book, well written, although sometimes a little too detailed. So what is my problem? Read morePublished 11 months ago by Isolde J Jordan
This is a comprehensive view of cooking on a world-wide basis. The early chapters are especially good at showing the differences and similarities in various cultures throughout... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dr. Roy Schreiber
Wonderful written and comprehensive. I wish it had whisper-synch so I could listen while I cook..Published 18 months ago by Jeff Spurrier
Kudos to the reader who can devour this in one go - there are many ideas and details here that tantalize - some of the writing satisfies and some leaves you wanting. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Gordon H. Jee