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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-deserved resurrection, 18 April 2002
This review is from: The Curiosities of Food: Or the Dainties and Delicacies of Different Nations Obtained from the Animal Kingdom (Hardcover)
This small book does not pretend to be an original work, rather a compilation of accounts and stories from many sources. Written in 1859, it necessarily has that elaborate Victorian style, but is more readable than many others of the same period - which may not be to everyone's taste, but I for one found it utterly charming.
There is a wealth of detail contained here, with some mind-boggling and stomach-turning anecdotes, but one should have a good dictionary ready to hand for those common Victorian words which are obscure (not to say obsolete) nowadays:- calapash & calapee (upper and lower turtle meat); lymph (pure, clear water); maw (stomach); quintal (hundredweight); train-oil (whale-oil); rypeu (ptarmigan); phlebotomized (bled).
A subtle (but sometimes hilarious) undercurrent of humour pervades the whole book; e.g. re gelatine, "The Americans ... tried to pass off upon us isinglass made of fish bones, but it would not go down" and "the only difference between this and joiner's glue is its greater price". It is apparent that the author takes a vicarious pleasure in rooting out the more extreme and gut-wrenching descriptions of cuisine and customs from writings by various travellers in remote lands.
Overall, this is a witty, engaging collection of unusual (probably useless, but great for quizzes!) trivia that well-deserves this long-overdue resurrection.
If only Mr.Simmonds had lived long enough to complete the companion book of vegetable food curiosities...
Gets my 5 stars.
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Location: Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK

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