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The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice Paperback – October 28, 2008


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The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice + Spice: The History of a Temptation + Salt: A World History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345480848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345480842
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance praise for The Taste of Conquest

“As a chef I have always been deeply intrigued by the mystique of spices. Michael Krondl’s book awakens and transports the reader into this mysterious world, showing us how our lives and history have been transformed by the sensuous odors of cardamom, nutmeg, and turmeric.”
–Gray Kunz, chef and owner of Cafe Gray and Grayz, co-author of The Elements of Taste,

“Michael Krondl’s new book on the spice trade peeks behind the usual histories of Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam–and tells a tale that is at once witty, informative, scholarly, and as consistently spicy as its subject. In short, it’s delicious!”
–Gary Allen, food history editor at Leite’s Culinaria and author of The Herbalist in the Kitchen

“With a dash of flair, and a pinch of humor, Michael Krondl mixes up a batch of well-researched facts to tell the story of the intriguing world of spices and their presence on the worldwide table. This is a book that every amateur cook, serious chef, foodie, or food historian should read.”
–Mary Ann Esposito, host/creator of the PBS cooking series Ciao Italia

“The Taste of Conquest is the savory story of the rise and fall of three spice-trading cities. It is filled with rich aromas and piquant tastes from the past that still resonate today. Michael Krondl serves up this aromatic tale with zest and verve. This book isn’t just for historians and spice lovers–it’s for all who love good writing and great stories.”
–Andrew F. Smith, editor of The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink

“In common with the finest food writers–Elizabeth David, Mark Kurlansky, Anthony Bourdain–Michael Krondl shows a respect for the details of the past that never slays his appetite for the realities of food now. His love of history, travel, and food is as compelling as it is infectious.”
–Ian Kelly, author of Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, the First Celebrity Chef


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Michael Krondl is a chef, food writer, and author of Around the American Table: Treasured Recipes and Food Traditions from the American Cookery Collections of the New York Public Library and The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook. He has published articles in Good Food, Family Circle, Pleasures of Cooking, and Chocolatier, and has contributed entries to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

You will come away from this hungry!
restorationengland
Michael Krondl's The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice is a unique contribution to the history of the spice trade.
Whitt Patrick Pond
This book reads as easily as a fairy tale but it's full of fascinating facts and information.
Debra L. Mraz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Williams on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book was a total pleasure to read ... highly recommended ... made me hungry for scents, flavors and travel! It's in the vein of Kurlansky's "Cod" and "Salt" books, and was even a bit better than "Salt". It's filled with many, many interesting stories, great people, and delicious meals. I'd also recommend the author's companion website for the book (spicehistory.net) ... more pictures, info, and some terrific-sounding recipes.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Krondl's The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice is a unique contribution to the history of the spice trade. The three great cities referred to in the title were first Venice, then Lisbon, and later Amsterdam, each having been the dominant center for the spice trade at particular times, starting from the time of the Crusades, continuing through the Renaissance and finally into the modern age. Krondl traces the history of how each city rose to dominate the spice trade and then later lost that position of dominance. In each section, he also takes us on a modern day walking tour of each city, describing what they were like in their glory days and then what they are like today, in the case of Venice and Lisbon with little remaining to remind their inhabitants or visitors of the power they commanded in centuries past. But even so, Krondl manages to seek out a number of fascinating individuals who manage to keep at least some piece of this rich history alive, whether it's by recreating the period dishes as they were once served or building recreations of the ships that were used to haul the empire-building cargoes from halfway around the world.

Unlike most authors who write on history, Krondl comes to the subject with the insights of a professional chef and a repected authority on food. The value of his insights becomes particularly clear when he addresses questions like what Europeans wanted spices for, the differentiations between the different levels of society, why spices commanded the prices they did, and why the demand for spices rose and fell over the centuries.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Art on January 3, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Based on the NPR interview, I was excited to get this. There are a few nuggets of history, but it is more for food-lover's bookshelf than a history lover's.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sara C. on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't thought about Vasco da Gama, or the age of discovery since grade school, you will be surprised at all the spicy parts that the textbooks left out. Here is a history of the three main powers at the time in succession -- Venice, Portugal, and Amsterdam -- including all the bloodiness and debauchery. Along the way, Krondl invites us into the homes of people of the time, describing what and how they ate in careful and tantalizing detail. He also shows us how various taste trends starting in medieval times affected the course of history, laying the groundwork for the global economy, multinational conglomerates and even slavery. An excellent read for foodies, history buffs, and anyone who wants to know more about what seasons our food today and why.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By LD TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
After reading the book, I felt I was reading another James Burke "Connections" chapter. Venice began its sea trade with salt evaporation ponds while northern Europe was using salt mines. Venice dominated trade with the Middle East from 1330-1571.

P.46 "The trade network that resulted involved anything that could be loaded onto a vessel. So Bohemian silver might be exchanged for Slavic slaves in the Crimea, who were in turn traded for pepper in Alexandrea which was then bartered for Florentine wool in Venice, from whence it was shipped to Trebizond and sold for ginger, which could be used to buy Apulian grain in the south of Italy and sent to Venice, where it then fetched a good price in Bohemian silver. Consequently Venetian merchants, no matter what was in their ship's hold benefited from the bases established to further the pepper trade. As in Byzantium, the European definition of what was called a spice was rather loose in those days, encompassing perfumes, medicines, and even dyes along with the likes of cinnamon and ginger."

Lisbon wanted a sea route to spice suppliers because overland made it too expensive. Mariners worked their way down the African coast until they rounded it and got into the Indian Ocean. Trading posts were established in India and beyond. At the same time war broke out against the Ottomans and Venice spice imports dropped to a third. The Portuguese brought in 5 times that. The profit for the king was twice that of gold coming from Africa. The Portuguese shipped large volumes of pepper but also nutmeg from the Indonesian islands. The heyday was 1500-1600. This was the time when the aristocracy would put spices out at banquets to give the air a pleasant smell.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Debra L. Mraz on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book reads as easily as a fairy tale but it's full of fascinating facts and information. Expertly researched and so well written you'll be able to taste the spices. Fitting analogies to our day are full of wit and help to paint the picture.
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