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A History of Food in 100 Recipes Hardcover – 12 Apr 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Collins; First Edition edition (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007411995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007411993
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 3.3 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘Sitwell has pulled off something clever: a thoroughly researched and witty history that is both compelling and teeming with scholarly facts … You don’t have to be a raging foodie to enjoy this’ Observer

‘At every turn there is a new snippet of social, political and culinary history … A total joy’ Spectator

‘A triumph. Almost every sentence of his scrupulously researched and breezily confident book oozes with a passion for eating’
The Times

‘A whopping treat’ Daily Mail

About the Author

William Sitwell came to prominence in the food world when he joined the magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated in 1999. He had previously worked for newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Times and London’s Evening Standard having first joined the Sunday Express in 1994. He became editor of WFI in 2002 and won a string of awards for the magazine’s writing, stories, design and photography. Now re-named Waitrose Kitchen he divides his time between editing the magazine and writing about food for a variety of other magazines and newspapers and making forays into television. He has appeared on a variety of programmes as food critic and presenter. He spends his spare time growing vegetables, cooking food and making cider at the home in Northamptonshire that he shares with his wife Laura and their children Alice and Albert. ‘A History of Food in 100 Recipes’ is his first book.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Autamme_dot_com TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is clearly a product of love, much research and thought and hopefully the reader will cherish it with similar affection. Despite its title, there are not 100 recipes and neither are many of the recipes something you will probably try for a family meal, but don't let that put you off!

Here the author delves back through time and a myriad of recipe books and food books that have been published, wryly noting that many contain similar boastful, self-indulgent claims about their breadth, uniqueness or completeness as those that often appear today. The fruits of the author's labour are presented as a celebratory, knowledgeable, information and yet concise look at 100 dishes, many of which are still popular today (albeit with some modification at times) and many that may have fell by the culinary wayside.

Starting from Ancient Egyptian bread and working in a chronological order the reader is treated to such items as Roast Goat (30 BC), Pasta (1154), tips on party planning (1420), Hot Chocolate (1568) and even a revelation as to how the Englishman discovered the fork (1611). Time and food development marches on and in the past century featured dishes include Strawberry ice-cream soda, Toad-in-the-Hole, Omelette, Cheese Fondue, Fairy Cakes and Sweet and Sour Pork. For one reason or another, which will become clearer to the reader, the author has selected each recipe and pinned it to a specific place in the chronology for a reason. It might be due to an historical event, a "new" cook book or other writing, a new development or even due to a craze.

Truly a quirky, interesting, innovative and thought-provoking series of friendly, informative mini essays.
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Format: Hardcover
I made rather a mistake ordering this book from the library instead of buying it as it would perhaps be a better book to dip in and out of rather than read through from beginning to end, as I am having to do.

Having said that, it does make for a fascinating chronological read and William Sitwell is the most delightful guide to this altogether charming history of food. I have learned so much - and had lots of chuckles along the way!

The reason for my 4* rating rather than 5* is because there are several typos in the book (surprisingly) and also because I am none too keen on the style of illustration (historical illustrations excepted, of course).

If you like your food served with a generous dollop of history and a good sprinkling of humour, do buy this book rather than borrowing it and read it at your leisure.

And if you enjoy reading about food, I can warmly recommend this extremely good memoir from New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton Blood, Bones and Butter: The inadvertent education of a reluctant chef.
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Format: Hardcover
As the title suggests, A history of food in 100 recipes is a collection of stories elaborating on the history of food from a Western perspective. The book begins with a recipe for bread in Ancient Egypt from about 2000 BC and journeys through the ages right up to the present day where it ends with a recipe for meat fruit by Heston Blumenthal. Each chapter commences with a recipe - of sorts. These are taken from sources of the period so are not necessarily easily understood or recognisable as a modern recipe. This then leads into the chapter proper which is connected in some way with the recipe. The book is an engaging way of reconnecting with our food and where it comes from. It's a treasure trove of fascinating facts, a history book written in a light, humorous and accessible style. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

The Author William Sitwell is a food critic, journalist and presenter. He currently edits the food magazine Waitrose Kitchen amongst a plethora of other activities including gardening and being the resident expert on BBC TVs A Question of Taste. He has by no means covered the whole history of food, but has picked out the stories which particularly appeal to him.

Of course the first chapters I jumped to were the chocolate ones and I had two of these to revel in. Both interesting, both very different. The first was Hot Chocolate and recounts the well known "discovery" of chocolate by the conquistador Hernan Cortes. During his stay with Montezuma he learnt the secrets of the cocoa bean, so highly prized it was used as currency. And he enjoyed many a brew of spiced frothing hot (sometimes cold) chocolate. Cocoa beans went back with him to Spain where the drink soon became revered for its health giving properties.
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Format: Hardcover
A heavy book, with a lot of pages. Over-written, too. Could do with a good editing. Sitwell is everywhere at the moment, quite entertainingly proffering information and suggestions about various aspects of food, but perhaps stretching himself a bit too far. Earnest, knowledgeable, friendly in approach. Not dull, but not exciting either. The 100 recipes are scantily presented, so it's not a book you'd choose to cook with. As a history it leaves lots of gaps. As a hundred fairly readable food chats, not bad. But as a whole it doesn't sit well with me. A strange off-white hard plastic covered cover, which takes on stains, irremovably, as I found it with a couple of drops of spilt wine.
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