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A History of English Food [Kindle Edition]

Clarissa Dickson Wright
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

In this magnificent guide to England's cuisine, the inimitable Clarissa Dickson Wright takes us from a medieval feast to a modern-day farmers' market, visiting the Tudor working man's table and a Georgian kitchen along the way.

Peppered with surprises and seasoned with wit, A History of England Food is a classic for any food lover.

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"This is a marvellous read ... [Clarissa Dickson Wright's] skill is to make food, even 800 years ago, seem relevant and amusing today" (Country Life)

"Magnificently eccentric and robustly informative ... an impressive tour of the horizon of a well-stocked mind ... [a] glorious sense of the continuity of English cuisine from the Middle Ages to the present shines from every page of this engaging, funny and admirably entertaining history" (Sunday Telegraph)


Combining her two great passions of food and history, she takes us on a chatty and fascinating crawl

from Medieval times when pigeons, eels and nettles were staples, to the pizzas, baked beans and chips of today ... consistently entertaining and informative

" (Daily Mail)

"CDW has produced a most relishable feast" (The Monday Book Independent)

"One of the strengths of the book is the author's comprehensive personal experience of the foods she describes. If you want to know the correct way to fillet a rook, or are curious about the taste of tripe made from cow's udder, then you couldn't hope for a more knowledgeable guide" (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

A personal history of English food by one of our best-loved food writers

Product details

More About the Author

Clarissa Dickson Wright found fame alongside Jennifer Paterson as one half of the much-loved TV cooking partnership Two Fat Ladies. She is the author of the bestselling memoirs Spilling the Beans and her latest, Rifling Through My Drawers, as well as many cookery books including Clarissa's Comfort Food and the soon to be published Potty - Clarissa's One Pot Cookbook. She is also a passionate supporter of the Countryside Alliance and of rural life and lives a little in London but mostly in Scotland.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A History of our love of food. 21 Oct. 2011
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
England is a country that has been invaded and amalgamated by many nations so far that we no longer know what is traditionally an English dish and what has its inspiration from farther afield. In this book by Clarrisa, we explore the dishes down the ages through well researched documents and where possible, suggestions so that the reader can get a taste of the past in the modern age.

Readers will be astounded by the sheer variety and whilst for some reason we have a reputation amongst other countries for tasteless food that's boiled to mush, I've yet to find out where that originated especially considering that we've had access to spices for centuries that have not only added to our own stock of treasures but also to our larders in many varieties. Look at dishes such as almond cream which was available in the High Middle Ages or even Hippocras, a wine spiced with ginger and cinnamon, honey and Chinese pepper. We have exotic tastes and yet we're still stuck with the rather poor reputation.

Add to this influence from expanding of the Empire (with the first Curry shop opening in London in 1810 by Sake Dean Mahomed) alongside other migrant's dishes and it's a country of variety, of adventure and something new around every corner. A wonderful book all in and one that I'll enjoy reading time and again especially with the additional extra of some of the recipes in the appendices. Cracking.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
"Englishmen," Samuel Pepys believed, "love their bellies above everything else." Food historian Clarissa Dickson Wright traces the nation's changing relationship with food from the mid-twelfth century to the present day. She uncovers the changes in diet influenced by new foodstuffs (many of our current food favourites have in fact been around for centuries) and cooking methods, such as the popularity from the mid-seventeenth century onwards of grand (ie French) 'cuisine' as opposed to plain (English) cooking.

Her breadth of knowledge is impressively wide-ranging (did you know that Telford's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was partly glued together with sugar?) and her approach is refreshingly hands-on: she has tried many of the old recipes, including those for lamprey ("so delicious that I can see why Henry I died from eating a surfeit of them"), seal ("disgusting"), rook ("not unpalatable") and calves' feet ("they make a very sticky sort of stew"), but not puffin ("they seem too cute to eat"); and seen traditional cooking methods in action ("I once remember coming across a rather unpleasant cheese made from skimmed milk which was blued by having an unclean horse harness dragged through it").

Clarissa's passion for food is the vital ingredient in this marvellous mélange in which she uncovers how "food tells us so much about the nature of society at a particular point in time".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative 22 Dec. 2011
A book to read from cover to cover or to dip in and out of, just like a recipe book in fact.

A good mix of food facts and historical anecdotes, it is not just a list of recipes through the ages. It is well researched and manages the blend of 'food recipes' and historical exposition in a well balanced way.

Well written, Dickson Wright's style is such that you can imagine her speaking directly to the reader in her enthusiastic yet intimate way.

Certainly not a dry read which occasionally "The History of..." books can become, the author maintains a lively entertaining pace throughout.

A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous read 23 April 2012
What a charming book! Charting the development of English food in chronological order from very early on it provides an interesting view on the evolution of food through the ages and the contributing influences.

What I like best is the fact that she quotes old recipes in the book, so it can actually be used as a cookery book. A little tip, take a small pad of post it notes and put in menu bookmarks as you go along. In this way you'll be able to retrieve the menus quickly from this large book.

The other thing about it is the length, it's a big book and just keeps on giving. Nothing worse than a book that ends too soon when you're really enjoying it.

This was bought for me as a present and I really like it, makes a perfect present for anyone who is faintly interested in food. Strongly recommended.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic 20 Oct. 2011
By Kate's
After seeing Clarissa's TV interview, I couldn't resist adding this to my collection of cookery books, but it is much more than that.. It is informative and amusing,and much like Keith Floyd's books you can hear the writer's voice throughout. Most enjoyable, and a book I shall refer to again and again. Well worth it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 8 Sept. 2014
By tommyr
I loved this book. It is very readable, without a hint of academic dryness, liberally sprinkled as it is with amusing and informative anecdotes, not all of which are strictly to do with food (but that doesn't seem to matter!) It is a comprehensive survey of our culinary history, at least from the 12th century, and is well informed and researched, bringing together the actual detail what people ate, the new additions to our diet introduced at various periods of history and the socio-economic context of the times. There are some great recipes at the end, too.
As for the (one star) review from Mrs Mary Richards describing the work as plagiaristic a) I don't care, as it's such a good read and (more importantly) b) it is considered quite normal to draw on and quote from others' works in such a book, especially when they are included in the bibliography at the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done Clarissa.
An excellent history of English food. Full of information and well written. I first obtained it from my local library but wanted my own copy so as to be able to use it as a... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Theo History Reader.
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
Love this book, I can hardly put it down, it's fascinating. It's huge, it's going to take weeks to read! But it's well written, easy to read, full of anecdotes as well as facts. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Sally D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed this book and it was good for me. There's a lot to learn in this product!
Published 24 days ago by Computer Junkie
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot to learn - very interesting account of food through the ages and...
I love social history, and the history of food in our country really is an interesting one.

I listened to Clarissa narrating her own book, and while she's a personable... Read more
Published 25 days ago by K. J. Noyes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
As always a winner, can not go wrong with this book .
Published 2 months ago by S. J. Rigby
4.0 out of 5 stars This lady loved her history as well as her food
This lady loved her history as well as her food. A resonably easy read that has me saying Oh I didn't know that regularly!
Published 3 months ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars ... book for a friend they have said they are happy with
Got this book for a friend they have said they are happy with it
Published 3 months ago by Linda S Horner
5.0 out of 5 stars She has a clarity of thought that has not been ...
She has a clarity of thought that has not been corrupted with P.C. nonsense. It is a pleasure to read something that has not been totally sanitised.
Published 6 months ago by a big reader
5.0 out of 5 stars You MUST read this!!
What can I say about the last book that Clarissa wrote. She had a masterly understanding of both food and history, with a lot of very funny asides which makes this book such a joy... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Supergran
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
Clarissa never did disappoint, and will be sadly missed. This massive tome is a very good and interesting read for anyone even vaguely interested in the history of what we eat,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by LDB
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