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The Food Chronology: A Food Lover's Compendium of Events and Anecdotes, from Prehistory to the Present Paperback – May, 1997

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Fascinating food facts can be as appealing as mouth-watering recipes. Hence the allure of The Food Chronolgy: A Food Lover's Compendium of Events and Anecdotes, From Prehistory to the Present. From this tour de force, you learn when the first tuna was canned, the first Hershey Kiss introduced, and the first Baci candy made in Italy--all in 1909. In 1995, the hardcover edition of this paperback won the Julia Child Cookbook Award for Best Food Reference. This paperback edition, published in 1997, deluges you with the same information, including material on politics, art, economics, medicine, in all, a total of 50 fields, all related to food. On the down side, many facts lack a context or sufficient explanation to make them useful. Why, for example, did the Greeks get pepper from India in 431 B.C.? Trivia nuts will have a feast. Researchers may find this farrago of facts poorly organized when tracking information through time. Spotty indexing does not help. Overall, there is an abundance of information with little sense of its significance.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Owl Books (NY) (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080505247X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805052473
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,435,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Well, my daughter borrowed it from the school library and when I first saw it I was enthralled and soon started browsing and could not stop reading, but then I fell onto some rather mistaken informations which, I am afraid, put the seed of mistrust in me. If I find such mistakes about subjects that I know well about, how many other people will also find other mistakes in this book about the subjects that they know well ? For instance, page 62, year 1274, we find: THe Japanese continue their relatively peaceful lives, shopping at the markets of Edo, Kyoto and Nara for (....)aubergines (.....) strawberries.(...).In those days Edo was a tiny village and Kyoto was certainly not called Kyoto either, as it was the capital, it was still called Heian-kyo or Miyako. Also, aubergines belong to the capsicum family and together with tomatoes, peppers, chilis, potatoes, they came from America, and certainly did not exist in Japan in those days. As for strawberries, are not they also one of the delicacies that we owe to America, as it appears on page 117 of the same book ? (1620) Regarding the Japanese peaceful lives too, this sounds a bit odd because this period is still troubled by feudal wars and plots and revenges, with lots of murders, castles burning, fields ravaged and people exiled... Hum! So much for peace! From a reader in Japan.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By makiwi on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a great read, and very entertaining. It wouldn't be used in any college history course, but probably was not intended for that. I was also rather disappointed that the 20th century took up so much of the book; plus inclusion of trendy-at-the-time-the-book-was-written restaurants in a supposed history of food seemed to be a bit gratuitous. Finally, though this may be something to be expected, ,the book (especially for later periods) is very Amero-centric, with most of the rest of the attention going to Europe, and just a snippet here or there of other food cultures.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Essman on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
I agree with other reviewers that Trager's book contains numerous errors. Nevertheless, there's nothing I've read quite like it for breadth of coverage of food history. The book is a resource for food writers like me, or anyone who wants a good source of ideas about food. I can check my facts elsewhere. I particularly enjoy Trager's treatment of food processing and industrial food history, as well as his analysis of food and nutrition fads over the past few centuries. His coverage of food-related and deficiency illnesses is also deep, and has spurred me to further reading. If you read The Food Chronology from cover to cover, as I did over a period of several months, you cannot help but be stimulated and enriched.
Food writer Elliot Essman's other reviews and food articles are available at [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy VINE VOICE on October 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Any serious student of food and food history

will find a lot of errors and inadequacies in

this book. Sometimes the material is just plain

wrong. More often, the brief comments are just

over-simplified: the section on Italy's D.O.C.

laws is an example.Most of the problems are

questions of emphasis: there are 25 entries for

'pasta' and none for 'soba'. None of the entries

about wine mention the development of bottling,

which is surely one of the most important innova

tions. As other reviewers have observed, there

is a disproportionate emphasis on America and

Europe and the curious inclusion of many short-

lived restaurants.

So with all these cavils, what's the point of

this book and why does it rate three stars?

This books great virtue is as a corrective

companion to all those histories that ignore

food. If you believe that people follow their

food and that nutrition and gastronomy often

lie beneath the big topics in history, this is

your book. What was going on in the world of

food in 1776? 1812? How did salt cod and lime

juice change the course of the European

exploration of the rest of the world?

This is history in a blink-without much

sense of context and no report of the ideas

about food that lurked behind the events.

But it is a valuable dose of perspective and

an excellent starting point. It is also, for

those times and places where a quick browsing

read is desireable, irreplaceable.

My copy sits on a shelf near the rocker in

my kitchen.
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