Currently unavailable.
We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

World History of Food 2 Volume Set Leafl Paperback – 7 Dec 2000

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Trade In Promotion

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Cambridge Primary Education (7 Dec 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0521951909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521951906
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Product Description


'Top of the league … there is enough in the two volumes to keep the curious happy for Christmases to come.' Matthew Fort, The Guardian

'Unparalleled in its knowledge and content.' BBC Good Food Magazine

'Anyone looking for something in the 'oh, you shouldn't have!' category could do worse than give The Cambridge World History of Food'. The Sunday Telegraph

'If you have a very special gourmet in your life, this is the Christmas present for them … This book is so fascinating that you could spend a whole year dipping into it.' Healthy Eating

'A weighty tome packed with culinary wisdom, which is ideal for lazy browsing.' Waitrose Food Illustrated

'An essential addition to the library of any serious chef, culinary educator, or devotee of fine cuisine.' Cuizine

'… if you want to know a bit more about what you're actually cooking, this really is all about food, including its political and social history. Utterly fascinating and a most welcome gift for the sort of person who likes to delve that bit deeper into everyday things.' The Independent

'… Factual Feast …' Condé Nast Traveller

'In a word: Wow … The World History of Food is part fascinating reading, part essential reference tool. What's not in here doesn't exist.' USA Today

'[A] formidably wide-ranging work.' Economist

'It's hard not to feel a giggly kind of pleasure at the full extent of knowledge on display in the Cambridge World History of Food.' The New Yorker

'[A] tour de force. … With information that is up-to-date, a format that is easy to use and a fresh, engaging approach to their subject, Kiple and Ornelas have prepared a magnificent resource.' Publishers Weekly

'This treasure trove of knowledge about food is so interesting and useful that I have only one regret. I wish that it had been available earlier, to spare me (and you) the effort of tracking down hundreds of different sources now summarized here. Whether you are a cook, gourmet, or glutton, an archaeologist, physiologist, or historian, you will be browsing these two volumes for years to come.' Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

'An outstanding new reference source … The Cambridge World History of Food is a remarkable work of scholarship and is highly recommended.' Library Journal (starred)

'A magisterial achievement. Food has long been central to humankind's relationship to the earth, and anyone interested in that relationship will find here an endless source of knowledge and insight. The book's perspective is sweeping, its ecological and cultural significance is profound.' Donald Worster, University of Kansas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

From the eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors to food-related policy issues of today, this monumental two-volume work covers the full spectrum of foods that have been hunted, gathered, cultivated, and domesticated; their nutritional make-up and uses; and their impact on cultures and demography. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eleni TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Dec 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent two volume encyclopaedia of food, which contains every possible information on food and its history.

The first volume starts with an introductory chapter, "Determining What Our Ancestors Ate", which looks at archeological evidence, and bioanthropological analysis, in order to determine the 'prehistory' of food. This chapter is very concise and informative. The book then examines each food category in detail and discusses most raw food's origin and history. This encyclopaedia of raw materials is very easy to use and well written. For instance I was looking for the origin of tomatoes and how and when they reached the Mediterranean, for a project I am currently working on, and it couldn't be simpler.

The second volume is divided into four sections: "Food and Drink around the World", "History, Nutrition, and Health", "Contemporary Food-Related Policy Issues", and "A Dictionary of the World's Plant Foods". Each section has a plethora of well written, interesting and useful essays and references for each subject.

The massive volumes are printed on very thin paper and have very few black and white photographs. Definitely not light reading, but extremely useful and valuable, especially for someone who is involved in a food related research.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Nov 2000
Format: Hardcover
Like The Bible, this book comes in two massive volumes printed on tissue-thin paper. Hardly light reading, but because the space devoted to each topic is of necessity, small, it's possible to dip in and out with ease. The 'World History' is largely about raw materials rather than food ingredients or processing, so those searching for information on cheese, or kefir or koumiss rather than milk, for instance, will be very disappointed. The illustrations (all black-and white) vary in quality and little thought seems to have been given to their selection. It would be useful to see what those exotic fruit and veg look like, for instance. Instead, we're treated to a barely-visible photo of a melon costing $50, and numerous pictures of dogs - including two mummified ones! Despite the inclusion of chapters on biotechnology, much of the material on recent developments (e.g. BSE, E.coli O157) is already out-of-date. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive treatment in one place there's probably nothing better.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
I hesitated before buying this book - because of the price - but it's fabulous. Full of wonderful information about food and nutrition and a must for anyone interested in food or studying food related subjects. A definitive work.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
A warning note 12 Jun 2001
By Mark Nesbitt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a bumper book, stuffed with good articles by leading authorities in the field. As other reviewers have pointed out, this is a relatively dry volume that concentrates overmuch on archaeology and evolution (well documented elsewhere) and not enough on food history, on which there is a huge amount of misleading literature.
Sadly these volumes require a warning notice for their dictionary of plant foods (a hefty part of the book: pages 1711-1889). Evidently a last-minute attempt to widen the appeal of the book, this is woefully and grossly inaccurate. For example, pink peppercorns are wrongly identified as Piper nigrum, rather than Schinus terebinthifolius (and their mild toxicity is not noted either). Almost every entry in the directory is wrong or questionable. There is further evidence of underinvestment in editing elsewhere in the book; for example, botanical names are not consistent between chapters.
Most readers would fare much better with Alan Davidson's amusingly written, comprehensive and (above all) accurate "Oxford Companion to Food". This Cambridge volume belongs on library shelves - where it will occasionally be very useful.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Not quite all the world 7 Dec 2000
By Jadepearl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you are hardcore into food history this book is for you. The articles are done in a dry academic style but are absolutely full of information. Folks who are into nutritional or food anthropology will have hours of reading before them. Be prepared, the articles are long.
The food dictionary section is not as detailed as say the Oxford Dictionary of Food but it is still good.
The main complaint that may be raised is the fact that there are some foods that are ignored or not given their own specialty article. I was surprised to see only wine was covered for alcoholic beverages in great detail while a general article on "distilled beverages" covered the rest of the alcohol world. Folks hoping to find a detailed discussion on beer or other grain based drinks wil have to look elsewhere.
Do not expect any recipes. Instead, you will find academic articles on a variety of topics all related to food. It is not as comprehensive as one may think but it is very WIDE none the less. It is a monumental work and deserves a great deal of praise.
Highy recommended for the collection, but you will think that there should have been more. Buy other great reference books as well to round out your collection and your information.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Almost, but not quite, all you wanted to know 7 Jan 2001
By Peter E. Harrell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I just got this multi-thousand page boxed set for Christmas, and as a foodie with a growing interest in the broader issues surrounding food, this work has engrossed me for hours on end. To reiterate the comments of the earlier reviewers, do not purhcase this book if you are looking for recipies; nor, needless to say, if you are hoping for a light read.
I just got this multi-thousand page boxed set for Christmas, and as a foodie with a growing interest in the broader issues surrounding food, this work has engrossed me for hours on end. To reiterate the comments of the earlier reviewers, do not purchase this book if you are looking for recipes; nor, needless to say, if you are hoping for a light read.
By and large, the book has all the food history you want to know, and does an excellent job of including articles on a great variety of non-Western culinary traditions. It provides an overview of the culinary history of each continent, and attempts to trace the interactions between them. Its dictionary of plant foods is useful in case you ever feel the desire to know what an African mandrake is (different from the poisonous European one.) Other articles cover a broad variety of food-related issues, like food fads, the history of fast food, the history of government regulation of food, and the history of nutrition. Although the book is billed as an encyclopedia of food, it has articles on current food issues such as regulation and food as it related to health.
One earlier review criticized the book for not having much on alcohol; that, unfortunately, is not the only weakness. It lacks articles on the history of a number of prepared but staple foods such as pasta; the food-focus here is definitely on the raw. Still, I highly recommend the book for those with an interest in food; though the writing can be somewhat scholarly, it is by no means too dull for general consumption. Yes, [the price] is quite a bit for a book. But by and large, this one is worth it.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Food for thinking with 7 Aug 2001
By Chris Fung - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Part of the dissatisfaction among some reviewers is that this book is not a light, cheerful cook-book/dictionary. For those who want something more along those lines, there are plenty of light-weight volumes that purport to tell the story of this or that cooking tradition with lots of nice glossy pictures and maybe more than three accurate facts if you're really lucky. Try Jane and Michael Stern's road trip food voyages for example.
This two volume set is not for the faint of heart. It is a book for the enthusiast and the professional food historian alike: people who are looking for the social, biological and historical context to the food they enjoy. It is not completely encyclopaedic and there are a few inaccuracies in the identification of plant names and such but these are minor quibbles in the face of the sheer comprehensiveness of the work and the undoubted scholarly care that has gone into its preparation.
I for one appreciated the early chapters on the archaeology of food. People tend to forget the time depth that surrounds eating as a human activity. This is not surprising in a modern world that emphasizes fast food over aesthetics or knowledge. It's my observation that those who are most interested in food purely as a consumable item seem to have little interest in where it really comes from. For example, one of the great tragedies of modern industrial living is the increasing absence of knowledge of or even respect for the fact that real animals died to provide you with your McChicken Burger, or your Poached Sole in Tuscan Orange Sauce.
This book is an invaluable reference. I recommend it to all my students in my Anthropology of Food and Eating class, and I myself use it all the time. The Oxford Companion to Food is also a fine volume, and while it is sometimes more useful with regard to specific foods, it is much lighter on analysis and unneccesarily flippant in places. I would recommend that you buy both the Cambridge volumes and the OCF. Together they almost completely fill the reference spot on the bookshelf of the serious student of food.
To dine well is to touch the face of God
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Overloaded and overwhelming 20 Dec 2000
By NY Bibliophile - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Massive amounts of information. At times long-winded and difficult to read. Don't look for any sample recipes although they do periodically give a "uses" paragraph(s). They are definitely more for the academic rather than the foodie -- one look at the table of contents will convince you of this. Sample entry: "The Question of Paleolithic Nutrition and Modern Health: From the End to the Beginning". One's simple question may be deluged with a tremendous amount of information. That aside, they are very good reference books. Very informative and very seriously written. The books are divided into "Parts" and, within the Parts, "Chapters". Very good bibliography for each chapter. The index was very helpful however, since the index is in volume 2 and a topic can be in volume 1, it can get a little unwieldy. I would recommend the Oxford Companion to Food for a little more simplicity.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know

Look for similar items by category