The book arrives emblazoned with recommendations from such august cookery figures as Marguerite Patten, and mixes sharp social history into its examination of 2000 years of culinary experimentation and achievement. The early Britons enjoyed wild boar feasts, and such delicacies as olive oil and spices were introduced in Roman Britain, and there have been few periods when the English have not been trying to tickle the taste buds in new and inventive ways (even in the straightened times of wartime rationing, great invention could be found in utilising what few ingredients were available).
Colquhoun poses (and answers) a massive range of intriguing questions such as: what was the common factor between roast meat and morality in the 18th century? And why did the Black Death inaugurate new conditions for rural baking? Colquhoun set herself a daunting task with this ambitious book, but Taste succeeds triumphantly in both entertaining and informing. If you read it, you'll be able to enlighten (or bore) friends with a million and one arcane facts about food and cookery. But the thing that most of us will take away from the book is the realisation that the novelties of modern cooking that we pride ourselves on are not quite as novel as we thought -- our ancestors were very imaginative in the kitchen. --Barry Forshaw