- Hardcover: 386 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 052179353X
- ISBN-13: 978-0521793537
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Movable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Recycling much historical material from the magisterial Cambridge World History of Food (which the author co-edited), this slender volume distills 10,000 years of food history into just 300 pages. While the first work was notable for its rich multiplicity of voices and deeply informed scholarship, this one is a bit of a hash, owing to its author's insistence on squeezing a far-ranging narrative into the narrow framework of globalism. Far from being a new economic concept, the globalization of food, asserts Kiple, is as old as agriculture itself (globalization being murkily defined as "a process of homogenization whereby the cuisines of the world have been increasingly untied from regional food production, and one that promises to make the foods of the world available to everyone in the world"). The strongest material examines the spread of agriculture and its ramifications: it's a paradox of civilization that increased food production encourages population growth, which invariably creates food shortages and disease. That said, gastronomes will find scraps to nibble on here and there—who knew, for example, that the Egyptians trained their monkeys to harvest grapes? (June)
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"...this slender volume distills 10,000 years of food history into just 300 pages... The strongest material examines the spread of agriculture and its ramifications... gastronomes will find scraps to nibble on...."
"...the book is filled with many intriguing culinary facts and tasty tidbits of food history."
"It is a fascinating tale... it is brimming with curious titbits... Anyone interested in the history of food for whom "The Cambridge World History of Food" seems too large a helping will find Mr Kiple's sprightly summary volume far more palatable."
"In a few short paragraphs, Mr. Kiple summarizes huge ideas...."
"...delightful work... There are countless fascinating food and drink details in A Movable Feast . But Kiple's story of globalization is particularly interesting not for its incidentals but for the connections it makes between food-ways and what we would generally describe as real history."
-Jennifer Hewett, The American Interest
"...a smorgasbord of tidbits about our culinary influences, from legumes to Lent to Lindy's restaurant."
-Chicago Sun Times
"Kenneth Kiple has written a delicious history of food, from the pickings our earliest ancestors happened to find under the trees to the amazing range of food available in the nearest supermarket today, from the first domesticated pigs to the prime pork chops we ate for dinner last night. This is a cornucopia of information about food, both profound and fun, a history, a reference book, and a collection of fascinating facts."
-Bunny Crumpacker, author of The Sex Life of Food
"The subtitle suggests a pretty tall order for Mr. Kiple to deliver but he does so in a way that the linkage and connections between our neolithic ancestors and ourselves is neither to be dismissed as progress nor trifled with as evidence of what has gone wrong on our planet and its food chain over the last 10,000 years. "
"As the world struggles with food safety and legislating the table, looking back at how far the world's food supply has evolved can give us perspective. Thanks to food historians and authors such as Kenneth F. Kiple we can do that....There's plenty of food for thought in these pages."
-The Toledo Blade
"...plenty of answers to intriguing questions...."
-St. Louis Post
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Top customer reviews
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With the discovery of the American Continent, the European dietary profited a lot in its caloric intake with better nutrients. Potato, corn, tomato, not to mention the variety of fruits found in Brazil, diversified tastes in Europe.
Sailors, as Columbus, were responsible for spreading the "new food" worldwide, this part of history is really delightful.
The author also dicusses the consequences of bad eating habits, especially in North America. If in the past the most important issue was to feed everyone, once achieved this goal regardless the quality of the food, mankind has to cope with endemic obesity levels.
This book really gets into you, it is hard to stop reading it. When you finish it, perhaps you have the same feeling I had, that this book deserves being read again.
To summarize in a couple of words: TWO THUMBS UP.
If I were undertaking this kind of endeavor, I would have made sure that the world hadn't moved on and improved the research since CWHF was produced, or that the original contributor hadn't made a mistake. I mean, just because something appeared in black and white with Cambridge's name on it doesn't make it true, and large compilations tend to contain errors (see Nature's report on the error rate in the Encyclopedia Britannica for an example).
Another drawback is that the book purports to have a global perspective (and Cambridge, of course, is British) but the book is heavily US-focused. That's marginally defensible on some topics, such as fast food, although it's bizarre that the book leaves you with the impression that there are literally no non-American fast food chains in the world. However, it's not at all defensible on other topics (do we need a history of regional cuisines in the US if we're not going to get it for Italy or Russia or China?).
A final drawback is the scattershot organization of the book, which doesn't seem to be organized by any guiding principle at all--not chronology, geography, ingredients, or other themes. There are a few places where organization emerges but it quickly vanishes again, so references to things like McDonalds' effects on an area are made before you get to the fast food section, and you have the rare pleasure of running into the phrase "see ahead" in the text. This should have been a clear sign to the the editor that changes needed to be made.
I would say "recommended with caveats" because some portions seem interesting, but since I can't say how trustworthy those portions are, I'm going to say "not recommended." I think it's better to look for a book by a specialist in the particular area you're interested in, even if you wind up having to read a dozen books. If you like to know that what you are reading is really based in fact, or at least good research, this book just won't do.
I would have appreciated a tone that was more celebratory of food, and more information about how and why things were prepared and preserved the way they were, the cultural implications of such, etc. Apparently that is for another book (any recommendations?!).
Most recent customer reviews
A very interesting book. Well researched and well written.Read more