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Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520266455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520266452
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Magnificent. Offers a compelling narrative of the rise and fall of the various culinary philosophies. . . a model example of 'tertiary' history, drawing together a vast range of specialized studies into a single story about global culinary geography . . . a radically counter-cultural vision of modern food politics." (Times Literary Supplement. 2013-12-20)

Painstakingly researched and compellingly presented. Petits Propos Culinaires, 99. November, 2013.

"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. The Millions. 2014-01-24).

Fantastic read, immensely well researched and so accessible. Love it!  (Maria Speck, author Ancient Grains for Modern Kitchens)

"Passionate arguments . . . engaging personal observations . . . graceful writing." (Washington Independent Review of Books. 21 Nov. 3013)

"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 2013-10-17)

"It seems like every time you hear someone mention processed food, it's accompanied with the words 'bad' or 'unhealthy,' plus a shaking finger. Unless you're author Rachel Laudan."
(Los Angeles Times Daily Dish 2013-10-21)

"Magnificent . . . Some of Laudan's 'diffusion maps' of particular styles of cuisine are miniature masterpieces of cultural history."
(TLS 2013-12-20)

"Epic in range. . . . Its solidity and substance make a change from the day-to-day scatter of information delivered and consumed in tweets and sound bites."
(The Daily Spud 2014-01-19)

"A fascinating account of the rise and fall of cuisines. . . . Touching on all parts of the globe, Rachel explores human development through the vastly understated tool of food."
(Blue Lifestyle Minute 2014-02-06)

From the Back Cover

"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, author 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. . . . 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

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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It is a good look at the history of the world from this unique angle.
G. Wagner
The lively narrative style, as well as the historical facts, keep you interested.
Arlene Krasner
So one will read about Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and Catholic cuisines.
Michael A. Cavanaugh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The world has long needed a comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date history of cuisine. This is the book--but it is much more. It traces the sweep of cuisine through history: diffusion, trade, religious influences, migrations of peoples, and, of course, empires. Foodways have a history, and it involves world contacts. Globalism is not new; wheat spread over the Old World by 2000 BCE, and maize did the same (a bit later) in the New. Spices were traded from what is now Indonesia to ancient China and to the Roman Empire. Dr. Laudan traces influences over thousands of miles. One conclusion I take away from this is that it's silly to talk about "hybrid" cuisines--cuisines have been meeting and merging for thousands of years, and "fusion cuisine" is a term that could be applied to all of them.
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!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Lucey Bowen on October 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have ever wanted to understand why the world eats the diverse foods that it does or why some foods seem to have appeal in diverse locales, this is your book. Rachel Laudan manages to write with astonishing depth and scope as she shows how cuisine has travelled with the great religions as they spread from continent to continent. Her style has a windswept quality that entices the reader to feel that they are traveling with the monks, merchants and explorers around the globe.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kay Curtis on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This history is well researched and written in a 'user friendly' style. It is MUST reading for anyone who wants to know about food and how it got that way AND the amazing interaction it has had with the movement of power from nation to nation and conquest to conquest. It is an amazing accomplishment to bring so many threads together and make it SEEM so easy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tennessee Reader on September 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An astonishing book -- a masterpiece in fact. Putting the kitchen at the center of history, Rachel Laudan details the battles for dominance among the big powers, over thousands of years. It's easy enough to understand that ascendant civilizations can and do impose their foodways on those they vanquish, but not so obvious that the vanquished may well have a plan for eating their way back to power. Does Empire drive cuisine, or does cuisine drive Empire? This superbly written book prompts you to reconsider everything you know about food and power. As a historian of science, technology and food, with a prize-winning book behind her (The Food of Paradise), Laudan, uniquely, has the chops for a work of this scope. Dazzling! Read it with your mind, heart and soul, and refer to it forever after.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jay P. Francis on October 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think I would not be amiss to call this book a masterpiece. This should be in everyone's library. Just terrific.
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