This is one of the best books I have ever read. I love to cook, especially 'historic' recipes that make me feel like I can travel in time with each meal, and this amazing book helps me do exactly that.
This excellently written and researched book is basically a calendar, with every day of the year, from the 1st of January until the 31st of December, associated with one historical event and the menu from that event. For each day's event, there is a concise historical note and brief biographical notes of the people involved, followed by a reproduction of the menu or the reference of what was served, and sometimes by pictures. Apart from the menu, there are the recipes of some or all the dishes mentioned. The recipes are reprinted from cookbooks, letters or references written at the time of each event or when something like that is not available, from cookbooks about the time of the event.
The menus the author chose to include are from various times in history; from ancient and medieval feasts to modern events. For instance, on the 22nd of August, in the year 70BC, the menu for the feast given in honour of Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Niger, included among other things, "Sow's Udder or Belly" and "A Dish of Sea-Nettles" for which the recipes are provided. More close to home, Jane Austen wrote a letter to her sister Cassandra on the 14th of September 1813, describing her diner of that same day which consisted of "soup, fish, bouille'e, partridges, and an apple tart". Judging by the recipes provided for the delicious apple tart and the rich partridges with mushroom sauce, the novelist must have enjoyed her meal very much. Other notable menus include Queen Victoria's Christmas Dinner at Windsor Castle in 1899, the first Dinner aboard the Titanic on the 2nd of April 1912, the wedding breakfast of Elvis Presley on the 1st of May 1967 and the Royal Wedding Breakfast for Prince Charles and Lady Diana in Buckingham Palace on the 29th of July 1981.
The book is separated into two volumes around 400 pages each and it also includes very useful lists which display the menus, chronologically, by country and by occasion. In addition, it provides a valuable glossary, a general index and a recipe index.
The only disadvantage of this excellent book is its price; at least at the time this review is written, it is somewhat pricey. Luckily, I got this as a gift, but now that I read it, I think that I would have gladly bought it, as it is a well researched book with many documents, fascinating facts and great recipes.