This exploration of dining history through 365 historic menus is arranged chronologically from January through December, with an entry from some era for each day. Each entry begins with the name, date, and location of the event and a brief discussion of its significance. This is followed by a menu and, where possible, one or more recipes for items from the menu. Although classified as a cookbook, this is really more of a history of eating. Coverage is global (although heavily weighted toward Europe and the U.S., presumably because of the availability of resources) and includes occasions such as a Roman banquet in 70 BCE, a Medici wedding feast in 1469, a New Year’s Day dinner in Egypt in 1828, dinner aboard a steamship in 1866, a Peruvian presidential dinner in 1906, and a number of White House meals. To help with navigation, both volumes contain lists of menus arranged chronologically, by country, and by occasion. Volume 2 concludes with a short glossary of frequently appearing words and terms; a very select bibliography of books, Web sites, and historic cookbooks; and an index of recipes. The general index is relatively short and not very comprehensive. Another weakness is the often less-than-complete attribution for the sources of the recipes, for example, “New York Times, May 1917”; the shortened form of the citation would have been fine if a complete bibliography had been provided in the set. Overall, the set is unique and interesting to read. It of more interest as social history than as a cookbook and is recommended for libraries with cookery-history collections. It might also find a home in a public library where patrons seek out unusual menu and recipe ideas. --Diana Shonrock
• No other work presents such a wide scope of meals throughout history and around the world
• Menus, recipes, and charming commentary cover people from many countries and social classes
• Most entries provide several recipes from the menus so that students and food enthusiasts can attempt to recreate at least a part of the experience
• Meal occasions presented here match many interests, such as literature, sports, diplomacy, religion, vegetarianism, adventure, science, pop culture, and music
• Day-by-day essays with menus and recipes help students become a part of history
• 50 period illustrations and halftones complement the text
• A glossary of food terms and names of dishes will prove indispensable to readers and researchers
• Numerous sidebars offer charming details about the meals presented
"Janet Clarkson, a food historian and writer in Australia, has created a unique reference source that combines food with history. . . . Menus from History will be useful in both public and academic libraries for culinary students, historians, social scientists, and students doing reports."
"Each entry has a name, description, significance, and menu and analysis, with the provenance authenticated on all but a small handful with a "best guess." Since menus lend themselves nicely to an online environment, the ebook version of this work would present itself well in function and usability. BOTTOM LINE More comprehensive than The Food Timeline (www.foodtimeline.org)—a free food history reference site…this is recommended for culinary institutions as well as school and public libraries."
"What did Jane Austen and Abraham Lincoln have for supper? What do menus teach us about people and the societies in which they lived? This work compiles 365 menus from 35 countries and from all sorts of historic occasions. Ranging from a Roman banquet in A.D. 70, to spaceship meals, to Elvis and Priscilla's wedding celebration, the menus offer students and general readers a fun way to learn about significant events and cultures. Each menu includes a brief description of the original historic occasion, plus notes on the dishes and preparations, and instructions from period cookbooks. The book includes a glossary of food terms and names of dishes. To aid in finding specific items, menus are listed chronologically, by country, and by occasion."
Reference & Research Book News
"Overall, the set is unique and interesting to read. It is of more interest as social history than as a cookbook and is recommended for libraries with cookery-history collections. It might also find a home in a public library where patrons seek out unusual menu and recipe ideas."