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Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain Hardcover – 5 Nov. 2020
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- Publisher : Atlantic Books; Main edition (5 Nov. 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 178649647X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1786496478
- Dimensions : 15.3 x 3.4 x 23.4 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 5,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
Utterly delicious... I can't remember the last time I read a food book so interesting and so lively... The range of Vogler's reading is extraordinary... She has cooked up a banquet, and everything on the table is worth tasting at least once. ― Observer
This excellent history is full of fascinating facts about the food we eat... More tellingly, it pricks the pomposity of many of our social conventions surrounding eating. ― Daily Mail
A rich, persuasive diet of social friction, anecdotes and witty observation... It's a book to make the reader both think and salivate. ― Financial Times
Pen Vogler's history of food in Britain is a feast of little dishes, all of them delicious... She has wise things to say about nation, health and, especially, class, and she even finds room for one or two recipes. -- Dominic Sandbrook ― 'History Books of the Year', Sunday Times
Pen Vogler provides a fascinating social history of British food through the centuries and throws in a selection of enticing recipes from the past for good measure. ― 'History Books of the Year', Daily Mail
Taste in food, as Pen Vogler shows in this erudite yet lively compendium, is not just about preferred flavour, but what items in your shopping basket say about who you are or, more precisely, who you aspire to be... Scoff is full of such fascinating, intelligent dissections of familiar foods and culinary practices... Superb. ― 'Book of the Week', The Times
A terrific history, in bite-sized chunks, of how food and drink relates to social status. ― 'Book of the Week', Guardian
A superbly researched romp through food, cooking and class in Britain, looking at everything from brown bread versus white to the dangers of the dinner party. Full of history, Scoff is never heavy, thanks to Vogler's writing style and wit. ― 'Best Food Books of 2020', Independent
So utterly fascinating that I read it in great greedy gulps, like a novel. Vogler is incredibly good company as she dismantles pretty much every assumption we make about how we, and other people, eat. -- India Knight ― Sunday Times
From the Publisher
Avocado or beans on toast? Gin or claret? Nut roast or game pie? Milk in first or milk in last? And do you have tea, dinner or supper in the evening?
In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Covering such topics as fish and chips, roast beef, avocados, tripe, fish knives and the surprising origins of breakfast, Scoff reveals how in Britain we have become experts at using eating habits to make judgements about social background. Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.
Fit for a queen
An Italian food writer claimed that “the world of pasta is essentially a working-class place”. But the first English recipe for macaroni cheese, from 1390, was intended for the royal court.
The Beer Tapestry
Is the cliché that the English are big drinkers and the French are better cooks embroidering the truth? The Bayeux Tapestry shows Anglo-Saxon warriors with drinking horns; and the Norman invaders tucking into a meal.
Don't be picnickety
Eating in the open air gave the middle-classes status anxiety because that’s what labourers did. Wordsworth gave the uprooted, urban middle classes a way to feel at home in the countryside by popularising the picnic.
Not to pea trusted
Introductions of meat, such as the turkey, became instantly fashionable. Veg was another matter. It took centuries (and some clever publicity stunts) for people to stop being suspicious of potatoes. Not even an aphrodisiac promise could get people to put ‘apples of love’ (tomatoes) onto their plates.
Get (g)into the groove
The gin craze, which was ruining the lives of “poor wretches” with home-made gut-rot, was brought to an end with the 1751 Gin Act. It made small-batch distilling illegal in Britain until recent craft-gin makers challenged HMRC.
Fork-get about it!
The first people to use forks in Britain, in the early 1600s, were laughed at for being pretentious. Everyone used a knife, a spoon and bread – which is why bread is still placed in fork position, to the left of the plate.
Top reviews from United Kingdom
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Pen Vogler has written a real banquet of a book. Whether it’s jelly or gin, mac ‘n’ cheese or roast beef, breakfast or high tea – it’s all there. This is a book to dip into, where you’re guaranteed to find enticing descriptions of food, an intriguing history of how we eat, and some splendid old recipes. It would be a great Christmas present for your foodie friends.
Although the book clearly benefits from a great deal of research, this is not a dull or didactic academic tone. There are lovely anecdotes and delightfully witty passages. But any reader would be hard pressed not to learn a thing or two along the way.
Vogler argues that too often the British have used food to define our status or judge others, preventing good food being easily accessible to all. It’s an argument that’s well made, and as The Observer put it’ ‘a volume to savour’. Highly recommended.
There are numerous quotes from Dickens, Jane Austen and so on to illustrate how food was viewed at the time, and in this way it is more of a history of food than of social class, although this is touched on throughout. There isn't much here on food and social class in the present day, though there are some amusing and interesting asides, so more on food history than sociology