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The Penguin Companion to Food Paperback – October 1, 2002

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This is an awe-inspiring work of love and dedication to the one thing that unites all of us human beings: food.' - Sophie Grigson. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Alan Davidson, food historian, distinguished author, and publisher, is one of the world's best-known writers on fish and fish cookery. Among his popular books are North Atlantic Seafood and Mediterranean Seafood.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1104 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142001635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142001639
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,316,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
`The Penguin Companion to Food', edited by the noted English culinary writer and diplomat, Alan Davidson is a foody reader's compendium to lots of interesting articles about sources, history, some people, and most places regarding food and drink. It is quite properly named a `companion' rather than an `encyclopedia', since, unlike the seemingly similar `Larousse Gastronomique', it contains no recipes whatsoever. This is not an accident or oversight, as Davidson clearly states in the introduction that this was an editorial policy from the outset.

This book has a distinctly British flavor about it with its selection of article topics. While there is an excellent longish article on Elizabeth David, easily the most important British food writer of the 20th century, there are no articles on either Julia Child or James Beard, the two most popular and well known American food writers. Alternately, there is an excellent article on M. F. K. David who is much less well known even among Americans. Child and Beard are mentioned but once at the end of an article on American cookbook writing. This choice is an excellent symptom of what this book is all about. It is not about cooking so much as the writing about food culture. While Child and Beard were cookbook writers par excellence, David and Fisher dealt less with food than they did with appetites, impressions, scholarship, and recollections. It is noteworthy that David should be one of the very few writers honored with an article here, as Davidson was very much a student and protege of Elizabeth David.

The book is oddly selective in other ways. It has an article of goodly length on H. J. Heinz, but nothing on Milton Hershey.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I spent a lot of time deciding on which of the two companions to food to purchase. Given that the Penguin Companion was half the cost and by the same author, it won out. I was surprised though, when I held the book in my hands to read at the bottom of the front cover "Originally published as the Oxford Companion to Food." Although I am glad I am getting the quality and authoritativeness the Oxford series provides, it sure would have made my decision a lot easier to have known this bit of information.

The Oxford/Penguin companion is a terrific encyclopedia of foods. Davidson's essays are very readable and enlightening. Like all of the Oxford companions, it is a 5 star read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book. I find myself flipping from article to article and I have trouble putting it down. It is truly comprehensive, and well organized. It makes for fun reading, but is also a great reference if you come across some sort of obscure food item in a recipe or elsewhere.
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