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A History of English Food Hardcover – 13 Oct 2011


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A History of English Food + Clarissa's England: A Gamely Gallop Through the English Counties
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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 x 4.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,658 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

Review

"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

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 By Country Publications on 31 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
"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 By R. Jewell on 22 Dec 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kate's on 20 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Stibbard on 23 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Wright on 8 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a lucid and well written book about the history of our cuisine. C Dickson-Wright ranks alongside Dorothy Hartley as a must read!
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By tommyr on 8 Sep 2014
Format: Paperback
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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