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The Last Food of England Hardcover – 5 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st ed. edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091913977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091913977
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Rarely does such a work come to our notice. This is food social history in a class of its own." (Judges of the Jeremy Round Award for Best First Book)

"I am not a 'foodie' or a chef, but a feeder and a cook who neither eats to live nor lives to eat. There is a middle course: to live, and eat well too...There is so much more to life than food, so much connected to it, and so much to be missed by taking it for granted." (Author)

"Food is everything: it gives meaning to the landscape, links the past to the present and secures man and beast to time and place." (Author)

"It's time to reclaim the 'British blueberry' from its all-American image" (Jenni Murray, Radio 4)

Book Description

The food of England redefined - a beautifully written, impassioned plea for us to trace its roots, celebrate its continuity and address its future

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ned Clarence-Smith on 31 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book, elegantly written but also with passion and erudition. I chose it because I was feeling a loss. I have lived outside the UK for many years now, and every time the topic of cooking has come up English cooking has been the subject of ridicule. And yet I remembered eating quite well when I was young. I felt there had to be good food in Britain, and I set out to look for it. Originally, I had been searching for a book of English recipes, but Mr. Yeatman reminds us forcefully that good food is as much a question of how the original source is reared and prepared as of how it is cooked. Every chapter gives some recipes but their real focus is the various English breeds, strains and cultivars still existing and the preparation they require before they even enter the kitchen.

I also found the book tremendously attractive because it is a paean of praise to all those unknown, humble folk who have maintained the art of English food preparation and cooking, through thick and mostly thin. Mr. Yeatman has delved into the remotest corners of England to track down preparers of traditional foods. Inevitably, the book is also an act of mourning for all that has been lost over the years, and continues to be lost as the older generation with the knowledge progressively dies out. But the book is not all pessimism. Mr. Yeatman's witty style does not allow us to keep black thoughts for long, and he does give us reasons to hope that English food can be brought back from the brink. The book comes with some lovely photos taken by his wife of livestock and people showing off their wares. The number of old people in the latter category makes one fear the worst, the presence of some young 'uns gives us reason to hope.

Mr.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Guarente on 24 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
Last Food of England is the best general food book I've ever read. It is filled with learning; is funny, generous, and generally life-affirming. There's a lot of me-tooism about provenance and sourcing and food miles; Yeatman writes, instead, from decades of personal experience and discovery rather than as some chef with a sharp eye for band-wagon jumping. I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in food, and history, and the countryside.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gooseygander on 20 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book as a christmas present a couple of years ago. Initially my heart sank at the sheer size of it but I started to read it and found I could not put it down.The author is someone who is passionate about not just good food but also the culture and skills that produce the food. Good food is produced by people with passion, belief and honesty in what they do. Britain gets a bad press as regards its food but as a nation we still produce some of the best food in the world. We have long been known as the farmyard of the world and our beef, lamb, pork and dairy products are some of the best you can buy. Many of the farm animals you encounter in S.America, USA, Canada and Australia originated in the UK. The same is true of our seafood, much of which goes straight to countries like France that appreciate it. As does the cream skimmed off that abomination "Ultra low fat milk" which is actually more expensive than whole milk - another case of the big producers adding value to a product(for them not for us!!). The author states that the loss (or near loss) of this food is a combination of the rapacious greed of the supermarkets who want uniformity, long shelf life and appearance above everything else and mindless beaurocracy that views small producers as protagonists that have to be controlled. An excellent example of this is unpasteurised milk which the powers that be view as something akin to nuclear waste rather than the incredible living superfood that it is. This is also not the fault of the EU (which does come up with some barmy rules) as we are the only country in the EU that not only implements these rules to the letter(and often far beyond). The rest of Europe just ignores them and gets on with producing the food they love.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maybe I am being unfair in giving this book only 3 stars; it is a tour de force and often very enjoyable; I know it was many years in the writing. But I did find the level of polemic rather high. Yeatman's problem is that most of the people who read it will already agree with him. However his arguments are valid and clearly made, and his style has such elegance and force that you are likely to change the way you live.

Yeatman wants us to understand that, although we can't all be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and live off the land, we can all move usefully in the direction of sustainability, helping to support traditional growers and producers. This may make the book sound dry; it is not. It is a passionate, stirring book; an elegy for what we have lost and an urgent appeal to save what we can. The writing is both elegant and moving, and much of what he has to say will strike a new note even with those of us who think we know it all. His argument for what we can do is reasonable and feasible.

On top of that there are original and unusual recipes, sound practical advice, descriptions of remarkable poeticism and everything to stir the soul away from the supermarket. Anyone interested in sustainability or English food should read it. However, a better book, with less evangelical fervour and its feet more firmly rooted in the past, is Dorothy Hartley's classic but unsurpassed Food In England: A complete guide to the food that makes us who we are
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