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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A History of our love of food.
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...
Published on 21 Oct 2011 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninformative but Entertaining
If you're already an afficianado of historical cookery, you'll learn absolutely nothing from this book, but you'll still find it an entertaining read. To label it 'plagiarism' (as one of your reviewers does) misses the point that it's a book that badly needed to be written as a popular rather than arcane introduction to - well, what the title says. Dickson Wright makes no...
Published 9 months ago by Huffypufferfish


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A History of our love of food., 21 Oct 2011
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarissa's passion for food is the vital ingredient in this marvellous mélange, 31 Oct 2011
"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
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative, 22 Dec 2011
By 
R. Jewell (London UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 20 Oct 2011
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous read, 23 April 2012
By 
Andrew Stibbard "Andrew" (England) - See all my reviews
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninformative but Entertaining, 23 Oct 2013
By 
Huffypufferfish (Friockheim, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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If you're already an afficianado of historical cookery, you'll learn absolutely nothing from this book, but you'll still find it an entertaining read. To label it 'plagiarism' (as one of your reviewers does) misses the point that it's a book that badly needed to be written as a popular rather than arcane introduction to - well, what the title says. Dickson Wright makes no pretence to original research, but uses her secondary sources well, even if her starting point (mid-twelfth-century) is a bit arbitrary. She's particularly good on the impact of the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation as regards the dumbing-down of British cookery, and at last Mrs Beeton gets her just desserts (no pun intended). There are also some delicious anecdotes (like the one about Queen Anne's teapot). But recipes are thin on the ground, confined to the occasional interpolation in the main text and a meagre and arbitrary appendix. The most useful part of the book is the bibliography, which does direct the reader to Hannah Glasse and William Verral among others (still usable and delicious after 250 years). If you're after the actual nitty-gritty recipes you might do better to go to 'A Taste of History' (Black/Brears, London 1993 - which also contains much informative historical stuff) or Maggie Black's 'A Heritage of British Cooking' (London, 1977) - or indeed anything by Maggie Black or Michelle Berriedale-Johnson ('The British Museum Cookbook' and 'Pepys at Table' among others). But do read Dickson Wright's volume anyway, even if you just borrow it from the library. It's great fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foodie, 8 Nov 2012
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Ian Wright - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars what a woman, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A History of English Food (Kindle Edition)
She knows whereof she speaks, and she speaks with such eloquence. A magnificent read. A wonderful work to leave behind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort Reading, 10 Mar 2014
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Excellent bed- time reading except for the desire to get up and make cheese on toast! Scholarly, amusing,informative, comforting and enlightening, perfect for anyone who loves food and is intrested in social history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable ammunition, 15 Feb 2014
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In my continuing struggle to convince my Chinese partner that English food has NOT always been disgusting this book provides valuable evidence. Now I can blame the British eating habits on the French (boring Service a la Francaise) and the Germans (Woolton Pie, Snook and rationing thanks to their fiendish U Boat campaigns). Both have left a terrible legacy. I now insist on my chef preparing dishes for Service a la Russe and using the whole gamut of exotic spices last used in mediaeval times. Of course, I need many more footmen these days, and my butler is exacting a heavy burden in the cost of port to steady his nerves, but we must all be prepared to pay a price to put the Chinese in their place gastronomically, however charming they may be personally. Vive les Rosbifs!
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A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright
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