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A History of Food in 100 Recipes [Hardcover]

William Sitwell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 April 2012

The ingredients, cooks, techniques and tools that have shaped our love of food.

We all love to eat and most of us have a favourite ingredient or dish. In today's world we can get the food we want, when we want it, but how many of us really know where our much-loved recipes come from, who invented them and how they were originally cooked? In this book William Sitwell, culinary expert on BBC2's 'A Question of Taste' and editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine, takes us on a colourful, whirlwind journey as he explores the fascinating history of cuisine.

This book is a celebration of the great dishes, techniques and above all brilliant cooks who have, over the centuries, created the culinary landscape we now enjoy. Any lover of fine food who has ever wondered about the origins of the methods and recipes we now take for granted will find A History of Food in 100 Recipes required reading. As well as shining a light on food's glorious past, there are contributions from a glittering array of stars of British cuisine, including Marco Pierre White, Delia Smith, Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.

In an incisive and humorous narrative, Sitwell enters an Egyptian tomb to reveal the earliest recipe for bread and discovers the greatest party planner of the Middle Ages. He uncovers the extraordinary and poetic roots of the roast dinner and tells the heart-rending story of the forgotten genius who invented the pressure cooker. And much, much more.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007411995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007411993
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Sitwell came to prominence in the food world after he joined the magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated in 1999. He had previously worked for newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times and London's Evening Standard having first joined the Sunday Express in 1994. William became editor of WFI in 2002 and won a string of awards for the magazine's writing, stories, design and photography. Now re-named Waitrose Kitchen, he divides his time between editing the magazine and writing about food for a variety of other magazines and newspapers as well as making forays into television. He has appeared on a variety of programmes as food critic and presenter, including Masterchef: The Professionals and A Question of Taste and he presented the critically acclaimed BBC2 film, Michelin Stars - The Madness of Perfection. He spends his spare time growing vegetables, cooking and making cider at the home in Northamptonshire that he shares with his wife Laura and their children Alice and Albert. A History of Food in 100 Recipes is his first book.

Product Description

Review

'Sitwell is without doubt one of the great food writers of our day. Every serious cook should read this book at least once.' – Marco Pierre White

'Both bon vivant and connoisseur, William Sitwell is the one person I would trust to tell the ultimate story of the history of food'. – Raymond Blanc OBE

'sumptuously presented and succulently written…This is a triumph; any one of the essays will deepen your relationship with a particular food…William Sitwell knows his métier well, and he is a first-class food writer…Almost every sentence of his scrupulously researched and breezily confident book oozes with a passion for eating…what is has over all its predecessors is structural as well as stylish: a pick-up-and-smile quality.' – The Times

‘William Sitwell has pulled off something clever: a thoroughly researched and witty history that is both compelling and teeming with scholarly facts…you don’t even need to be a raging foodie to enjoy this’ – The Observer

‘William Sitwell’s book is a whopping treat’ – Daily Mail

‘A History of Food in 100 Recipes is a cracker. One of the best books of the year’ – Tom Parker Bowles

‘Full of hugely readable s(n)ippets of food history. Perfect for episodic dunking’ – Lucas Hollweg

‘Do you read cookbooks, or use them? Opinion and practise is divided: I suppose that in truth I’m more likely to do the former than the latter, leaving my time actually in front of the stove free for a mix of memory and inspiration. Which is why I love this book, the perfect mix of history, theory and practise. I am, in truth, unlikely to make Ancient Egyptian bread, or plan a medieval party, but I sure do love reading about them.’ – Erica Wagner, The Times

'Sitwell sweeps through 4,000 years of culinary history with a great deal of elan; he wears his learning lightly – in the spirit of 1066 and All That. A History of Food in 100 Recipes is something enjoyable to dip into and pick out the choicest morsels.' – Colin Spencer, TLS

About the Author

William Sitwell came to prominence in the food world when he joined the magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated in 1999. He had previously worked for newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times and London’s Evening Standard having first joined the Sunday Express in 1994. He became editor of WFI in 2002 and won a string of awards for the magazine’s writing, stories, design and photography. Now re-named Waitrose Kitchen he divides his time between editing the magazine and writing about food for a variety of other magazines and newspapers and making forays into television. He has appeared on a variety of programmes as food critic and presenter. He spends his spare time growing vegetables, cooking food and making cider at the home in Northamptonshire that he shares with his wife Laura and their children Alice and Albert. ‘A History of Food in 100 Recipes’ is his first book.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I made rather a mistake ordering this book from the library instead of buying it as it would perhaps be a better book to dip in and out of rather than read through from beginning to end, as I am having to do.

Having said that, it does make for a fascinating chronological read and William Sitwell is the most delightful guide to this altogether charming history of food. I have learned so much - and had lots of chuckles along the way!

The reason for my 4* rating rather than 5* is because there are several typos in the book (surprisingly) and also because I am none too keen on the style of illustration (historical illustrations excepted, of course).

If you like your food served with a generous dollop of history and a good sprinkling of humour, do buy this book rather than borrowing it and read it at your leisure.

And if you enjoy reading about food, I can warmly recommend this extremely good memoir from New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton Blood, Bones and Butter: The inadvertent education of a reluctant chef.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
As the title suggests, A history of food in 100 recipes is a collection of stories elaborating on the history of food from a Western perspective. The book begins with a recipe for bread in Ancient Egypt from about 2000 BC and journeys through the ages right up to the present day where it ends with a recipe for meat fruit by Heston Blumenthal. Each chapter commences with a recipe - of sorts. These are taken from sources of the period so are not necessarily easily understood or recognisable as a modern recipe. This then leads into the chapter proper which is connected in some way with the recipe. The book is an engaging way of reconnecting with our food and where it comes from. It's a treasure trove of fascinating facts, a history book written in a light, humorous and accessible style. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

The Author William Sitwell is a food critic, journalist and presenter. He currently edits the food magazine Waitrose Kitchen amongst a plethora of other activities including gardening and being the resident expert on BBC TVs A Question of Taste. He has by no means covered the whole history of food, but has picked out the stories which particularly appeal to him.

Of course the first chapters I jumped to were the chocolate ones and I had two of these to revel in. Both interesting, both very different. The first was Hot Chocolate and recounts the well known "discovery" of chocolate by the conquistador Hernan Cortes. During his stay with Montezuma he learnt the secrets of the cocoa bean, so highly prized it was used as currency. And he enjoyed many a brew of spiced frothing hot (sometimes cold) chocolate. Cocoa beans went back with him to Spain where the drink soon became revered for its health giving properties.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
No self respecting foodies bookshelf should be without this book sitting in a prominent position on their bookshelf Why? Because it is fabulous, witty, informative, unique and incredibly readable as well as being a really beautiful object in it's own right.

Descended from a long line of writers William is acknowledged as one of the UK's best food writers as the editor of Waitrose Kitchen, there is not much he doesn't know about the British food scene. From the moment I got my copy of The History of Food in 100 Recipes I couldn't put it down. I sat up in bed reading until my eyeballs could take no more. There are moments in history that jump out as being key .. From bread making in ancient Egypt, cheesecakes in ancient Greece, the discovery of chocolate all the way to to the invention of the Kenwood chef and Nigella's cupcakes each chapter is a story in it's own right and William has brought these game changing moments together in this lovely looking book. It is meticulously researched .. it is full of the most interesting stories about passionate foodies . Whilst I'll admit that I have always found history dry and dusty as a subject William brings it all to life - It is fresh, colorful, delicious, funny in places, easy to read yet there is serious depth to it .. I love it.

It really is absolutely the best book I've read in years. It would be the most perfect gift for any food lover and if you only buy one recipe book this year make it this one and keep it at the front of your bookcase!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force history of cooking. 20 April 2012
Format:Hardcover
Food writer William Sitwell, editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine has written this book; I assume the inspiration was the British Museum's excellent History of the world in 1000 objects radio series and book.

Whilst there are 100 recipes in the book, it isn't really a recipe book as such. It's more a chronological meander through the history of cooking, starting with bread in ancient Egypt and ending with a simple recipe for stewed rhubarb using protected designation of origin forced fruit from the rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire.

None of the recipes are by Sitwell - sources range from the walls of an Egyptian tomb to an iphone app; the level of detail in recipe reflects the source. Each recipe is accompanied by a few pages discussing the source, and how the dish reflects a change in the way that we, as human beings, eat. So, for example, the recipe for a souffle discusses the career of Antoine Beauvilliers, the first restaurateur to offer his guests a choice of dishes from a menu, and who wrote L'Art du Cuisinier in 1816. Incidentally, it seems as though Antoine had some difficulties with his souffles, as there is apparently much discussion in the book about getting them to the table quickly, before they collapse.

The thing this book reminds me most of is Google. Not in a "do no evil" kind of way, nor in a "if you don't know the answer, Google will be able to tell you" kind of way, but in a "it's amazingly simple to get sidetracked" kind of way. The book is liberally cross referenced, so that, for example, you start with a recipe for apple pie, then follow a reference to turkey, and from there to hot chocolate, and so on.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
I really love this book. Haven't finished reading yet - it's one I dip into now and then, but the historical info is fascinating and the slightly sardonic tone to the writing is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mike Hodgson
5.0 out of 5 stars book well 4ecieved
Thank you

The book exceeded my expectations, well packed and arrived on time The book is a must for any researcher on cookery history.
Published 2 months ago by Dave M
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyable
Beautifully presented book, which you can dip into whenever. Juicy & fascinating facts complimented with a good sprinkling of humour, baked in a well written... pie!
Published 3 months ago by Chasamatazz
5.0 out of 5 stars My wife's birthday present.
She thinks it is very good. Now I have to think of another twelve words before this can be submitted.....
Published 8 months ago by Julius Kosky
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive
This is clearly a product of love, much research and thought and hopefully the reader will cherish it with similar affection. Read more
Published 14 months ago by I. Darren
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I was very disappointed to find that 42 of the 'recipes' are from 1902 and later! I also feel let down by the fact that there are few modern interpretations of the older recipes... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Me
1.0 out of 5 stars A history of food in a 100 recipes
As a foodie and great chef I did not like this book - for me all recipe books should have beautiful colour pictures to inspirer without them it does not make me want to try out the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Taste
4.0 out of 5 stars History of Food
This book looks wonderful - I have had a quick glance through it - but I have bought it as a present, so don't want to do more than this in case it gets damaged. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jubilate
5.0 out of 5 stars The History of Food
This is a wonderful book to buy and read yourself and would make a great present for the foody in your life.
Published 21 months ago by avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars an essential addition to any food-lover's bookshelf
It was the serependipitous purchase of some antiquarian cook­ery books that prompted culinary expert William Sitwell ("the one person I would trust to tell the ultimate story of... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Country Publications
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