A History of English Food and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading A History of English Food on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

A History of English Food [Hardcover]

Clarissa Dickson Wright
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 10.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: 15.00 (60%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 3 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.31  
Hardcover 10.00  
Paperback 6.99  
Audio Download, Unabridged 21.00 or Free with Audible.co.uk 30-day free trial

Book Description

13 Oct 2011

In this major new history of English food, Clarissa Dickson Wright takes the reader on a journey from the time of the Second Crusade and the feasts of medieval kings to the cuisine - both good and bad - of the present day. She looks at the shifting influences on the national diet as new ideas and ingredients have arrived, and as immigrant communities have made their contribution to the life of the country. She evokes lost worlds of open fires and ice houses, of constant pickling and preserving, and of manchet loaves and curly-coated pigs. And she tells the stories of the chefs, cookery book writers, gourmets and gluttons who have shaped public taste, from the salad-loving Catherine or Aragon to the foodies of today. Above all, she gives a vivid sense of what it was like to sit down to the meals of previous ages, whether an eighteenth-century labourer's breakfast or a twelve-course Victorian banquet or a lunch out during the Second World War.

Insightful and entertaining by turns, this is a magnificent tour of nearly a thousand years of English cuisine, peppered with surprises and seasoned with Clarissa Dickson Wright's characteristic wit.

Frequently Bought Together

A History of English Food + Clarissa's England: A Gamely Gallop Through the English Counties
Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books; 1st edition (13 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905211856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905211852
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description


"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)

"A learned, serious tome, packed with information and history" (Guardian)


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)

"A most entertaining book" (BBC Olive Magazine)

Book Description

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

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

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 500 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.
Was this review helpful to you?
22 of 22 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".
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
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.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
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!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
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.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninformative but Entertaining 23 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're already an afficianado of historical cookery, you'll learn absolutely nothing from this book, but you'll still find it an entertaining read. To label it 'plagiarism' (as one of your reviewers does) misses the point that it's a book that badly needed to be written as a popular rather than arcane introduction to - well, what the title says. Dickson Wright makes no pretence to original research, but uses her secondary sources well, even if her starting point (mid-twelfth-century) is a bit arbitrary. She's particularly good on the impact of the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation as regards the dumbing-down of British cookery, and at last Mrs Beeton gets her just desserts (no pun intended). There are also some delicious anecdotes (like the one about Queen Anne's teapot). But recipes are thin on the ground, confined to the occasional interpolation in the main text and a meagre and arbitrary appendix. The most useful part of the book is the bibliography, which does direct the reader to Hannah Glasse and William Verral among others (still usable and delicious after 250 years). If you're after the actual nitty-gritty recipes you might do better to go to 'A Taste of History' (Black/Brears, London 1993 - which also contains much informative historical stuff) or Maggie Black's 'A Heritage of British Cooking' (London, 1977) - or indeed anything by Maggie Black or Michelle Berriedale-Johnson ('The British Museum Cookbook' and 'Pepys at Table' among others). But do read Dickson Wright's volume anyway, even if you just borrow it from the library. It's great fun.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book
Published 4 days ago by Gab
5.0 out of 5 stars what a woman
She knows whereof she speaks, and she speaks with such eloquence. A magnificent read. A wonderful work to leave behind.
Published 4 months ago by Ms. P. E. Ennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort Reading
Excellent bed- time reading except for the desire to get up and make cheese on toast! Scholarly, amusing,informative, comforting and enlightening, perfect for anyone who loves... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs Monika L I Nisbet
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable ammunition
In my continuing struggle to convince my Chinese partner that English food has NOT always been disgusting this book provides valuable evidence. Read more
Published 5 months ago by DigbyS
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I hav wanted this book for months and am so glad I finally bought it, it is fascinating and really nicely written.
Published 12 months ago by ali fawkes
1.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal
We have a large collection of books on this subject, from Roman times to modern. I can pinpoint what passages Dickson-Wright has used from which books. Plagiarism at its worst.
Published 12 months ago by Mrs. Mary Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book
I gave this to a magnificent cook, who loves it. It is informative, interesting, well written and has loads of tips, facts, interesting articules etc.
Published 14 months ago by nieves
5.0 out of 5 stars Never trust a thin cook
Clarissa loves food and that comes over so well in this book, all the periods are covered with an incredible depth of knowledge but with a lightness that makes this a great read!
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. J. D. Nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars gift saved the day.
we did not know what to get father-in-law for his 80th Christmas gift! the book arrived on time and he liked it very much. Thank You
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Foody Book
Full of interesting historical facts and the origins of many recipes today and easy to read and dip into and come back to, but I am glad I wasn't around to eat in those olden days. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mike
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category