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In the Devil's Garden. A Sinful History of Forbidden Food Hardcover – 18 Jul 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; First edition (18 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841952222
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841952222
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 976,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Allen's range of anecdotes is so varied and offbeat that is makes for a fascinating book. (Jane Jakeman Times Literary Supplement)

His book is a finger-buffet of travellers' and fishermen's tales associated with food and food taboos, loosely chapter-bound by the Seven Deadly Sins. . . If we are, as the 18th Century food writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first suggested, what we eat, then Allen is a strange and adventuresome man. (The Times)

Food factoids, whimsy, mad opinion, history and hearsay tumble across the pages of In The Devil's Garden. . . Here, Allen's anecdote-packed, gonzo writing style swashbuckles between the badly behaved European aristocrats who like to take a cup of jasmine-scented chocolate while watching infidels being burned alive to the "harlot-princess-slut divine, dominatrix bitch" Madame du Barry, who seduced Louis XV with a mountain of luxury. (Jen Moir Daily Telegraph)

Brilliant (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"A finger buffet of travellers' and fishermen's tales associated with food and food taboos, loosely chapter-bound by the Seven Deadly Sins... If we are, as the eighteenth-century food writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first suggested, what we eat, then Allen is a strange and adventuresome man"

The Times

From the forbidden fruit of the Old Testament to the numerous laws broken at Francois Mitterand's final meal, In the Devil's Garden is a mouth-watering history of food taboos from around the world - a smorgasbord of culinary titbits to spice up any after-dinner conversation.

In an age when half the world's population - from cow-loving Hindus to kosher Jews and Western vegetarians - still lives with harsh dietary restrictions, Allen reveals just how significant, and pervasive, our relationship with food has always been.

"Food factoids, whimsy, mad opinion, history and hearsay tumble across the pages of In the Devil's Garden ... Allen's anecdote-packed, gonzo writing style swashbuckles." Daily Telegraph

"By captivating the reader with his sardonic wit, Allen turns the dryest food facts into succulent morsels. A five-star read." What's on in London

Cover illustration: Mark Swan. Cover design: Ghost

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Durston TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a fantastic book!

In the Devil's Garden is divided into eight sections (one for each of the seven deadly sins plus one for luck!)Part travelogue, part gourmet treat, part history book, this book ticks so many boxes you won't be disappointed.

The book is incredibly well researched and is written in a highly entertaining, often humourous way. There were parts where I was almost crying with laughter....the part where Allen was rubbed down with a guinea pig was particualrly amusing (if you want to know why, you'll have to read the book!) I particualrly liked the idea of Louis XIV's courtiers having a 'hissy fit' when chocolate was introduced to France. I can picture it really clearly!

A great book that you can read in one sitting, or dip in and out of. Good present for foodies. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Nov 2005
Format: Paperback
Well, this was a little surprise! I picked this up with some trepidation; not knowing if i was to read a tedious speel about religion and grub and whatnot.
My worries were unfounded. This was a veritable smorgasboard of the most unusual facts and heresy's regarding food i have ever heard. Roll on obscure food questions on high prize quiz shows!
In all seriousness i read this as i have a vested interest in food, i trained and worked as a chef for a few years, but this is a cracking book that would appeal to anyone fond of trivia or the pedant on a mission.
I must also make quick mention of the writing style; descriptive, to the point & very easy - he wants us to enjoy the book, not feel as though we are at a lecture & has the talent to make this happen. The book is more easily readable and sun-lounger suitable than many high street fiction novels.
For those in search of something new, this is well recomended, as is the same authors book on coffee; the devils cup.
If this is hell's kitchen - its good eatin'!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tasha on 22 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
I had such high hopes for this book and was sorely disappointed. It's not witty and interesting enough to be a fun read and it is definately not in the slightest bit academic. The stories are fantastic but I feel the writer has been a little too creative with the facts, giving them no credibility or intrigue. His Americanisms and painfully coloquial style is not indearing, it's just annoying. I've given the book two stars because I've read worse but I still wish I hadn't bought it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fairly enjoyable book with an entertaining style .It is a humorous look at the history of food fads. Those looking for a serious tome might find this one a little light for their digestion. For those looking for historical quirks, good tales and a good laugh and who are not too pedantic, this makes a good snack of a read.
A good accompaniment to the coffee book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SMG on 7 Feb 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was a mine of interesting (and probably quite useless) information. It explored myths and taboos surrounding food, examining their origin and comparing and contrasting attitudes and ideas in different cultures. The book was organised into sections along the lines of the 7 deadly sins which was quite a neat idea but some of the topics didn't really fit into any sin category. It was as good a way as any to organise it though; I can't think of a better way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, my only quibble being that it left me hungry for more, if you'll forgive the pun!
The section on cannibalism was fascinating, albeit gruesome. One of the topics that has stuck most prominently in my mind is that of why the apple was chosed to represent the forbidden fruit in catholic ideology. Apparently the apple was a powerful celtic symbol and that was probably the reason it was represented as the forbidden fruit by the Roman church. I would definitely recommend this book as a good read, it will whet your appetite in more ways than one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Oct 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written in an informal and witty style, this book is hugely enjoyable, full of fascinating information about the favourite foods, food taboos, food superstitions and food symbolism in many societies and many ages. After all the entertaining chapters, the last one notes that there are few food taboos in western mainstream society these days, and that allows us "a richer and more varied diet now than at any point in history." But the author wonders whether that does not also represent some kind of loss, in that the meaning of food, like that of sex, has been eviscerated: "As meals lose social and spiritual meaning, we spend less time eating together... As the communal family meal withers, so do our table manners and the general level of civility, leading to the creation of the fast-food hamburger culture, in which everything is immediate, rude, meaningless, and disposable."
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