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History of Food [Paperback]

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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History of Food (2nd Edition) History of Food (2nd Edition) 4.3 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

9 July 1994
The story of cuisine and the social history of eating is a fascinating one, and Maguelonne Toussaint–Samat covers all its aspects in this definitive history.
  • Covers all known foodstuffs
  • Copiously illustrated
  • Full social and geographical coverage
  • Awarded the History Prize of the Societe des gens de lettres de France, for the French edition
  • Over 2500 sold in hardback.

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    Product details

    • Paperback: 824 pages
    • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; New edition edition (9 July 1994)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0631194975
    • ISBN-13: 978-0631194972
    • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 16.5 x 4.6 cm
    • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,220,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    • See Complete Table of Contents

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    Product Description

    Review

    "This book is not only impressive for the knowledge it provides, it is unique in its integration of historical anecdotes and factual data. It is a marvellous reference to a great many topics." Raymond Blanc, Restauranter Writer

    "Remarkable one–volume survey of a vast subject." Stephen Mennell, Monash University

    "Indispensable, and an endlessly fascinating book. The view is staggering. Not a book to digest at one or several sittings. Savor it instead, one small slice at a time, accompanied by a very fine wine." New York Times

    "Quirky, encyclopaedic, and hugely entertaining. A delight." Sunday Telegraph

    "Readable and scholarly, profound and humorous." Ventura County Star Free Press

    "One of the most important works on the subject to date and is a comprehensive reference. Maguelonne Toussaint–Samat is an accomplished writer, journalist and historian. Every serious culinary library should include this book. I unreservedly recommend its 801 pages to you." Association Mondiale de la Gastronomie

    "The book makes one want to go into the kitchen, to cook and to eat. It is beautifully produced and the price is excellent." Oxford Magazine

    "Gorgeous and unusually thought–provoking. I loved it." The Age

    "This is a remarkable book, full of information culled from serious research." Nature

    "An important contribution to the history of food." The Journal of European Economic History

    "A History of Food is a monumental work, a prodigious feat of careful scholarship, patient research and attention to detail. Full of astonishing but insufficiently known facts." Times Higher Education Supplement

    "Anyone interested in food, its origins, and how skilled craftsmen and tradesmen held the key to the long evolution of the present day status of food, would enjoy this book." ATEA Journal


    "The author is a journalist and cultural historian, whose forte is the medieval and renaissance culture of Europe, especially the domestic economies, food and clothing. This is her eighteenth book and most likely her magnum opus. It is a thoroughgoing, comprehensive and encyclopedic reference book that covers the history of foodstuffs from as far back as the sources would allow, interspersed with the often bumpy road of their acceptance. The book is well organized, following the development of human self–preservation from hunger through gathering and hunting to domesticated animals and settled farming ... The author did a magnificent job of providing information that entailed an incredible amount of research ... The book belongs to every public and academic library, and on the book shelves of all people with curious minds. It rightfully received the History Prize of the Société des gens de lettres de France." International Journal of World Peace

    "It′s the best book when you are looking for very clear but interesting stories. Everything is cross–referenced to an extraordinary degree, which is great because the information given is so complex and interweaving." The Independent

    From the Back Cover

    The story of cuisine and the social history of eating is a fascinating one, and Maguelonne Toussaint–Samat covers all its aspects in this definitive history. She looks at the transition from a vegetable – to an increasingly meat–based diet, as well as at the relationship between people and what they eat, between particular foods and social behavior and between dietary habits and methods of cooking.

    Inside This Book (Learn More)
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    Customer Reviews

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    3.3 out of 5 stars
    3.3 out of 5 stars
    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly readable - I loved it! 8 April 1999
    By A Customer
    Format:Paperback
    I usually avoid French Historians, just because their distinct style is not normally to my liking. This book was an exception, and I'll admit it surprised me. It is dense and anectotal, so I wouldn't recommend it for long reads, but if taken in small doses it's wonderful! She's very, very funny, which says a lot, because French writers usually don't make me chuckle. It took me a month to read it, and it was worth the time.
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    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of meat in a flawed translation 29 Aug 1998
    By A Customer
    Format:Paperback
    There's so much packed into this book that it's better to use it as a reference rather than a straight-through read. The author (or the translator) is not as familiar with American food history; case in point: significant credit is given to "Betty Crock[sic]" for advancing the cause of cooking. It is unclear if the author knows Betty Crocker is fictional...... Worth having in your library.
    Comment | 
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    1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    By A Customer
    Format:Paperback
    I use the book in its original French version and have not read the translated English text. The writing is quite complex and heavy and at times chauvinistically French. The work however is very comprehensive and overflows with details and anecdotes. Sometimes, one is left to wonder how realistic and founded some of the statements are. Regardless, it is a fun reference work which is plenty worth buying.
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
    Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
    28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars It shows its age 31 Dec 2002
    By J. Bretz - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    I have serious misgivings about the facts presented in this book. The original French text was written in the 20's. I was given this book as I am working on a masterwork on the cultural history of Olives and Olive oil. In this respect she often jumps to the wrong conculsion, and makes broad judgements that have been discounted by anthropology since the 1960's. For instance she lists oil stores in ancient Babylonia as being olive oil. We know from further scholership that this would have been sesame oil, and that olive oil was a fuel and not a consumptive in that culture at the time. This causes me to question the entire book. This may be an interesting read, but at least with respect to Olives and Olive oil, there is much better out there.
    17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Poor evidence of sources 31 May 2003
    By Bill W. Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Hardcover
    Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat provides a rather feeble excuse for her limited bibliography and fails to provide adequate citations for many of her assertions. There is an obvious French slant on history throughout the book. And in some cases there appear to be insertions of "local legends" or Francophile dreams for which there is no other evidence than Toussaint-Samat's statement (i.e., fabricated quotations attributed to Charlemagne's biographer in the cheese story on pages 116-117 - look it up!). In a generalized, broad-spectrum work such as this it would be all but impossible to check every fact. But, that being said, the book contains hundreds if not thousands statements of fact and her uncritical (at best!) inclusion of information for which there is no evidence in the source cited brings the whole book, as an authoritative source, into question.
    14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Amusing but completely unreliable 19 Mar 2006
    By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    This fat volume about food and cooking, packed with anecdotes and trivia and stories, is amusing but completely unreliable, very out of date (1920s!), and often just plain wrong.

    As a source of information about the history of food, it is useless. Many of the assertions of fact here are questionable, and none of them are footnoted so you can check them out. The author seems to have taken snippets from here and there (mostly, apparently, from French sources), sorted them thematically, and uncritically assembled them into a continuous text. No doubt some part of the assertions here is true, but there is no way of telling the difference between the true ones and the others!

    What's more, the translation is poor. Not only are some gallicisms rendered word-for-word (and so only intelligible if you translate them back into French), but there are no translator's notes for topical references.

    I cannot recommend this book for anyone seriously interested in the history of food.
    12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of meat in a flawed translation 29 Aug 1998
    By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    There's so much packed into this book that it's better to use it as a reference rather than a straight-through read. The author (or the translator) is not as familiar with American food history; case in point: significant credit is given to "Betty Crock[sic]" for advancing the cause of cooking. It is unclear if the author knows Betty Crocker is fictional...... Worth having in your library.
    19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly readable - I loved it! 8 April 1999
    By Jon M. Stallard - Published on Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    I usually avoid French Historians, just because their distinct style is not normally to my liking. This book was an exception, and I'll admit it surprised me. It is dense and anectotal, so I wouldn't recommend it for long reads, but if taken in small doses it's wonderful! She's very, very funny, which says a lot, because French writers usually don't make me chuckle. It took me a month to read it, and it was worth the time.
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