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Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food Paperback – September 2, 2003
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This is a fascinating book that shows us ourselves: like the cannibal, who eats his enemy to appropriate his power, we believe in food's transformative effect, which through devotion to vegetarianism and other special diets will make us "better." It paints a picture both sweeping and precise. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Food writers need to be passionate and opinionated about their subject; dollops of wit and poetry are also esteemed. Though a scholar and historian rather than food writer, Fernandez-Armesto brings all of these qualities to the table as well as an almost staggering breadth of information. His aim, as stated in the preface: "to take a genuinely global perspective; to treat food history as a theme of world history, inseparable from all the other interactions of human beings with one another and with the rest of nature; to treat evenhandedly the ecological, cultural and culinary concepts of the subject; to combine a broad conspectus with selectively detailed excursions into particular cases; to trace connections at every stage, between the food of the past and the way we eat today; and to do all this briefly." Whew. And does he succeed? Yes, although at times the flow of knowledge overwhelms the ability to process.
But that's fine.Read more ›
Also interesting is his attitude that sugar, salt, and fat are not villains in destroying health: He cites small percentages of people who are vulnerable to high cholesterol and heart disease, but says that for most people, consumption of these three food items should not be an issue.
He writes of the "Columbian exchange" of animals and crops between the New World and the Old; of how the six major grain crops came to be grown, and where; of how colonization produced mixed cuisines.
"Near a Thousand Tables", a blend of fact and opinions, is sure to provide excellent dinner table discussions with your friends.
Gathering round the cooking fire is an ancient human pleasure, one that endures despite the rise of microwave single-serving meals and hectic family schedules. Recommended.
The author's organization of the history of food into revolutions worked very nice to me. Obviously there are a lot of different ways to look at a subject this broad, but this book provides a nice prospective when combined with other sources and more information. I am not an expert, but I felt that there really wasn't much new scholarship or amazing revelations, just a well-organized and well-researched story.
As a side-note, I enjoyed his system of endnotes. There are no subscripted numbers in the text to distract you. Instead, if there is a passage that you are interested in following the references, you go to the back of the book where the endnotes are listed by page number and the last two words of the passage being credited. It takes a minute to find the closest endnote, but I think it is worth it because I am not interested in following most endnotes.
I highly enjoyed this book and it's take on food history. It clarified some points that I had been mulling over in my head, and found it a wonderful companion to Reay Tannehill's book "History of food"
It is not merely about the historical facts surrounding food and cooking in different cultures. It is also a manifesto about the ways cooking has changed and how that effects society from the authors personal opinion. This aspect of the book seems more based on the authors personal biases than on imperical, psychological observation or study of modern societies and historical societies.
As for the perspective the book is written from, it would be obvious to anyone who is reading it that its written from a "traditional," "patriarchal society" view point.
I would have preferred a book about the history of food with less concern for the gender rolls perceived to be carried out in the societies. It seems the author added unneccesary examples, unrelated to the history of food. When discussing different historical methods of cooking he speaks of "Californian tribes, for instance, used to put women who had just given birth and pubescent girls into ovens dug into the ground..." While interesting, I don't find this information pertinent to food history, unless the girls were to be eaten, which they were not, only slowly roasted to death.
He speaks of Ethiopian practice in which "Occasionally a slice of meat would be passed over a man's shoulder to the women and children who stood in silence behind the diners."
Later in the same chapter he states that "the anti-cooking movement is now more than a hundred years old; it started among feminists and socialists... In effect this meant eliminating it (cooking) from people's lives..." even to the extent of having kitchenless homes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating book on a little known subject, packed with well documented information and written in a very pleasing style.Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
So rich in culinary history and "five-dollar" words! The casual foodie will not enjoy this, but the serious student will probably devour it. A lot of info. Read morePublished on March 5, 2014 by Pony princess
The topic is interesting and I have enjoyed other books exploring food-cultural issues. And this book is good for maybe the first half.... Read morePublished on July 26, 2013 by D. S. Nelson
This book is well written but a bit "textbooky" with occasional words I needed to look up. I have an excellent vocabulary so this is significant but it is not too dry. Read morePublished on June 17, 2013 by meganajjcec
Delivered quickly, rare hard to find book, I would like to find more like this one at this great low price. Food history between 600you and 1600the AD.Published on January 9, 2012 by Angus
A great overview of the cultural dynamics of food as determined by environment, imperialism, globalization, religion, capitalism, science and quackery. Read morePublished on September 25, 2011 by E. Neily
A fascinating and erudite account of our prehistoric and historic relationship with food. The book discusses such things as herding versus hunting, sea weed, cannibalism... etc. Read morePublished on July 15, 2008 by Porgy
This is a great book although, amazon never delivered. I had ordered this book 2 weeks before school(along with 2 other books for school), it never came. Read morePublished on September 24, 2007 by Lindsay A. Nicholls