This must have been a very difficult book to write. The target readership, for example, is not confined to those interested in academic history; but will include large numbers who couldn't care less which monarch followed Henry II, yet have a passionate interest in the origins of the suet pudding. In many respects, and contrary to some reviews, the book has considerable appeal to both groups. The author might not have the greatest prose, and proof-reading is less than perfect, yet my experience is that this is a book with a fascinating story to tell which succeeds admirably in the telling. In short, it is an enjoyable and interesting read.
The book is quite well-researched, but there is an understandable shortage of references for the days before cookbooks. The author then resorts to a mixture of references to food in books about something else, and logical inference. On balance, this works pretty well and his arguments about the quality of British food in the Middle Ages are quite convincing. Could you recreate some dishes from 800 years ago using this book? - if you are an experienced cook, yes. Would you want to? - again, yes - you will be pleasantly surprised how modern some of those dishes are. The main thing that has changed in food is not so much what we eat - successful flavour combinations are cast in stone - but accessibility of great food for the ordinary person. When Normans strutted their stuff in Britain, I suspect my ancestors were hard-pressed to avoid starvation from one year to the next. Now, I can cook, in my own home, a meal fit for a great king. It won't be cheap, easy, or quick - but I can do it. That is the message of this book. British food has always been very good - apart from a very odd 100 year period from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s - but not for everyone. Now, with a bit of effort, and considerable skill, we can have our cake and eat it!