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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 30 October 2008
This is a fascinating, scholarly - but immensely readable - history of British cuisine, from a starter of prehistoric 'bog butters' and gritty bread cooked on hot stones, through sumptuous medieval feasts, Samuel Pepys's boeuf -a-la-mode dinner (price 6 shillings) in a swanky French restaurant, and to follow a slice of Jane Austen's rabbit pie picnic ... in fact, it's a centuries-long historical banquet progressing to M&S ready-meals and Nigella's 'ironic' cup-cakes. It is crammed as full of interesting details as raisins in a Christmas pudding. And for all that British cuisine has oft been derided, I found myself thinking several times through the centuries, "Oh, I wish I could have tasted that!'
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 January 2008
If you're interested in cooking and eating this makes an interesting and entertaining read. The book is not just about tastes in food across the ages, but also weaves in technological changes that affected cooking and refers to the influence of political and religious factors on food habits and availability of products.

There are lots of facts about how names of dishes arose and how sayings connected with food came about. One is reminded how recently some of our familiar foods were introduced and how food fads and avoidances are not new. The author, quite rightly, emphasizes the huge gulf that existed until well into the 20th century between what the well-to-do were eating compared with the majority barely keeping body and soul together. The book is thus, inevitably, also about social history.

I finished the book very grateful to be cooking in the modern era and with enhanced respect for those who cooked in the past.
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on 13 December 2007
"Taste" by Kate Colquhoun tells the story of Britain through what Britons have cooked and consumed through the ages. It begins with a prehistoric rubbish heap and ends with the flashy cuisine of the 1980's; this is a fast-paced and wide inquiry. Along the way the author unearths plenty of weird facts and anecdotes - washers-up protecting their hands with mutton fat, how Henry VIII accidentally changed our relationship with fish - but the story is what sweeps you along. New foods are imported, like the pineapple, or come back into favour (the tomato - people used to think they were poisonous). Different techniques and gadgets make you wonder how people lived without them in the first place. No refrigerator? Either dig a thirty foot hole and fill it with ice or rub salt into meat to stop it going off. No microwave? It's a charcoal brazier or nothing. This book doesn't just tell you about how people used to live, cook and eat, it makes you re-think how we do these things now. It's a fascinating story, and almost makes you want to cook the stuffed cow's udder on page 203. Almost.
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on 31 August 2012
Highly recommended for anyone interested in how British eating habits have changed over the centuries, or who would like to read an alternative history of Britain, or who loves food and reading about it.

This book is great - it's a fascinating investigation into the history of British food and how, as society, politics, and science have changed, so has our food. It's funny, interesting, and informative, and the writing style is very engaging. I felt as though people from centuries gone by were brought to life through her lively narrative (where *do* you seat the pope's parents at the dinner table?).

My only criticism of the book is how hungry it makes me.
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on 29 May 2010
I consider this a super buy - full of well-researched info on food fads through the centuries. As a teacher of History I've used the book as a resource to enhance studies of the medieval period. Apart from that I've enjoyed casually dipping in and out of the book when in need of a light but informed read.Have purchased copies as gifts for like-minded friends.
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on 24 August 2009
I'm only just over halfway through this book but I have to give it five stars now.

Not only is it extremely well-researched, it is written in a very approachable style that has had me laughing out loud at times. It is packed with facts, useless information, stomach-turning moments that make me grateful I'm a vegetarian (dishes garnished with cockscombs and sweetbreads) and flashes of pure envy (early ice-creams moulded into painted fruits).

My partner is waiting to read "Taste" after me, despite being constantly regaled with my snippets of it, as it is a fantastic piece of social history. The only tiny criticism I can offer is that is would be even better if it was counterbalanced by a bit more information about the cooking habits of the lower classes, but it's a fascinating read nevertheless.
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on 17 October 2013
A jolly good read if youre interested in food cookery and the origins of recipes and how they have evoleved.
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on 30 January 2012
I'm very pleased I bought this book. It is amazing to think where all our culinary inspirations originate from. I would have liked to see some actual recipes, but the historical detail is still interesting. It's a good to keep on the coffee table.
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on 4 September 2013
Delightful and delicious read. A journey through British culinary achievements and weird recipes (flamingos?!). Pots and pans and their development through the centuries. The food of the poor and the lavish and over decorated courses of the rich. Our attitude towards basic nourishment and overindulgence. A feast for the senses as rich and pungent smells pervade each page alongside historical events. Makes you want to track down ancient and old time recipes and give them a go in the kitchen! An excellent and inspiring book, I highly recommend it.
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on 22 January 2013
This is a lovely educational book,I would have enjoyed history much more if there had been more information about the way people lived which obviously includes what they ate and how it was cooked.I'm glad that ordinary people's diet is discusssed as well as the court's.
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