There is nothing new under the sun. As Kate Colquhouns utterly fascinating Taste proves, this nation has always been fascinated by food and cookery, even though it's the more recent explosion of media interest that has made the subject seem omnipresent. Subtitled The Story of Britain through its Cooking, Colquhouns brief is to take us on a mesmerising journey from the Roman era right up to the age of bullying TV celebrity chefs.
The book arrives emblazoned with recommendations from such august cookery figures as Marguerite Patten, and mixes sharp social history into its examination of 2000 years of culinary experimentation and achievement. The early Britons enjoyed wild boar feasts, and such delicacies as olive oil and spices were introduced in Roman Britain, and there have been few periods when the English have not been trying to tickle the taste buds in new and inventive ways (even in the straightened times of wartime rationing, great invention could be found in utilising what few ingredients were available).
Colquhoun poses (and answers) a massive range of intriguing questions such as: what was the common factor between roast meat and morality in the 18th century? And why did the Black Death inaugurate new conditions for rural baking? Colquhoun set herself a daunting task with this ambitious book, but Taste succeeds triumphantly in both entertaining and informing. If you read it, you'll be able to enlighten (or bore) friends with a million and one arcane facts about food and cookery. But the thing that most of us will take away from the book is the realisation that the novelties of modern cooking that we pride ourselves on are not quite as novel as we thought -- our ancestors were very imaginative in the kitchen. --Barry Forshaw
'Every page is packed with good things, historical and culinary, peppered with personalities and salted with wit' Jenny Uglow 'This excellent history of the nation's appetites is to be savoured ... Fascinating' Observer 'Taste is a treat, stuffed with scholarly information yet whisked up as light as a souffle' Sunday Telegraph 'As Colquhoun's meaty and spicy Taste reveals, what and how we ate is amazing, amusing and revealing ... a culinary masterpiece' Country Life
From the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution, the Romans to the Regency, few things have mirrored society or been affected by its upheavals as much as the food we eat and the way we prepare it. In this involving history of the British people, Kate Colquhoun celebrates every aspect of our cuisine from Anglo-Saxon feasts and Tudor banquets, through the skinning of eels and the invention of ice cream, to Dickensian dinner-party excess and the growth of frozen food. Taste tells a story as rich and diverse as a five-course dinner.
About the Author
Kate Colquhoun is the author of A Thing in Disguise: The Visionary Life of Joseph Paxton (2003). It was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize 2004 and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. She reviews regularly for the Daily Telegraph and has written for The Times, the Financial Times, BBC History Magazine, Saga Magazine, The (RHS) Garden and Country Life Magazine.