Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2002
I have serious misgivings about the facts presented in this book. The original French text was written in the 20's. I was given this book as I am working on a masterwork on the cultural history of Olives and Olive oil. In this respect she often jumps to the wrong conculsion, and makes broad judgements that have been discounted by anthropology since the 1960's. For instance she lists oil stores in ancient Babylonia as being olive oil. We know from further scholership that this would have been sesame oil, and that olive oil was a fuel and not a consumptive in that culture at the time. This causes me to question the entire book. This may be an interesting read, but at least with respect to Olives and Olive oil, there is much better out there.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2003
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat provides a rather feeble excuse for her limited bibliography and fails to provide adequate citations for many of her assertions. There is an obvious French slant on history throughout the book. And in some cases there appear to be insertions of "local legends" or Francophile dreams for which there is no other evidence than Toussaint-Samat's statement (i.e., fabricated quotations attributed to Charlemagne's biographer in the cheese story on pages 116-117 - look it up!). In a generalized, broad-spectrum work such as this it would be all but impossible to check every fact. But, that being said, the book contains hundreds if not thousands statements of fact and her uncritical (at best!) inclusion of information for which there is no evidence in the source cited brings the whole book, as an authoritative source, into question.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2006
This fat volume about food and cooking, packed with anecdotes and trivia and stories, is amusing but completely unreliable, very out of date (1920s!), and often just plain wrong.

As a source of information about the history of food, it is useless. Many of the assertions of fact here are questionable, and none of them are footnoted so you can check them out. The author seems to have taken snippets from here and there (mostly, apparently, from French sources), sorted them thematically, and uncritically assembled them into a continuous text. No doubt some part of the assertions here is true, but there is no way of telling the difference between the true ones and the others!

What's more, the translation is poor. Not only are some gallicisms rendered word-for-word (and so only intelligible if you translate them back into French), but there are no translator's notes for topical references.

I cannot recommend this book for anyone seriously interested in the history of food.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 1998
There's so much packed into this book that it's better to use it as a reference rather than a straight-through read. The author (or the translator) is not as familiar with American food history; case in point: significant credit is given to "Betty Crock[sic]" for advancing the cause of cooking. It is unclear if the author knows Betty Crocker is fictional...... Worth having in your library.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I usually avoid French Historians, just because their distinct style is not normally to my liking. This book was an exception, and I'll admit it surprised me. It is dense and anectotal, so I wouldn't recommend it for long reads, but if taken in small doses it's wonderful! She's very, very funny, which says a lot, because French writers usually don't make me chuckle. It took me a month to read it, and it was worth the time.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 16, 2009
This is a most comprehensive book, full of tasty bits of information and insight. Do not try to read all at once - it's most useful to either use the table of contents for specific times in history or foods, etc., or read one chapter at a time with a good red wine, Stilton cheese and whole grain crackers. Highly recommend this book if you love food, politics, history and people! This is not for beach reading. It's a keeper.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on May 31, 2015
Very interesting, but so much to digest, please excuse the pun. I am a speed reader, but in this case I can only read a few pages at a time. Still, it is by my side constantly. And wow, there are so many facts, I never knew..
Excellent!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
This charming book is very readable, full of interesting facts, and is certainly worth picking up. It is organized, however, by food rather than by chronology. Within the food sections, it also does not follow chronology very well, so it is difficult to find information when using the book as a reference.

The book feels quite like an oral history. It seems as if the author simply sat down and started writing about apples or truffles or whatever without thought to much organization. It makes for very engaging reading, but a poor reference text.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2002
I've been reading, re-reading, and browsing in this book since I bought it almost a year ago. I find it quite extraordinary. As a lifelong historian, I appreciate the exceptional research and the bright way the translator spins anecdotal hisotry into readable passages. As a single man who just started cooking some months ago, I find this book is also a "brain prompter." To be able to read about the history of the spices and foods which one prepares is like a double meal, one for the body and another for the mind.
While the book, naturally, follows strongly the French historical line, nevertheless, it's still fascinating to read, cull through, and refresh the memory about even simple foods like bread, pork, and fish. If you're a cook of any kind, with this book you'll be able to spark dinner conversations with snippets of history about what you've served.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 1999
I use the book in its original French version and have not read the translated English text. The writing is quite complex and heavy and at times chauvinistically French. The work however is very comprehensive and overflows with details and anecdotes. Sometimes, one is left to wonder how realistic and founded some of the statements are. Regardless, it is a fun reference work which is plenty worth buying.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Food in History
Food in History by Reay Tannahill (Paperback - May 10, 1995)
$13.43

A History of Food
A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat (Hardcover - November 3, 2008)
$27.75

Food in World History (Themes in World History)
Food in World History (Themes in World History) by Jeffrey M. Pilcher (Paperback - December 22, 2005)
$35.70
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.