Given to me as a gift to a food lover, this book came with high expectations. Great concept and well researched, but in need of some judicious editing to remove all of the narcissistic references to herself - completlely unneccessary in a work of this kind. I found her repeated references to her own drink problem irritating, and her subtle bragging about her privileged background and ownership of rare books, wearing. The result is that what is essentially a history book has too much of the author's presence. I have a hunch that CDW was considered too formidable for her publisher to stand up to her, and left all the narcissistic asides in for that reason.
I loved this book. It is very readable, without a hint of academic dryness, liberally sprinkled as it is with amusing and informative anecdotes, not all of which are strictly to do with food (but that doesn't seem to matter!) It is a comprehensive survey of our culinary history, at least from the 12th century, and is well informed and researched, bringing together the actual detail what people ate, the new additions to our diet introduced at various periods of history and the socio-economic context of the times. There are some great recipes at the end, too. As for the (one star) review from Mrs Mary Richards describing the work as plagiaristic a) I don't care, as it's such a good read and (more importantly) b) it is considered quite normal to draw on and quote from others' works in such a book, especially when they are included in the bibliography at the end.
In my continuing struggle to convince my Chinese partner that English food has NOT always been disgusting this book provides valuable evidence. Now I can blame the British eating habits on the French (boring Service a la Francaise) and the Germans (Woolton Pie, Snook and rationing thanks to their fiendish U Boat campaigns). Both have left a terrible legacy. I now insist on my chef preparing dishes for Service a la Russe and using the whole gamut of exotic spices last used in mediaeval times. Of course, I need many more footmen these days, and my butler is exacting a heavy burden in the cost of port to steady his nerves, but we must all be prepared to pay a price to put the Chinese in their place gastronomically, however charming they may be personally. Vive les Rosbifs!
Alas, since I wrote this CDW is no more and the world is a duller place because of that.
The book arrived during what for me, was a busy week. I have only managed to read the first chapter, the writing style is very good, reads more like a novel. I feel some regret I have only just discovered her work.
The book that came was the hard back version, a thick, very impressive looking book. I am sure that it is the sort of book you can pick up and put down, looking forward to it being 'winter reading'. There are recipes to be experimented with too.
What can I say about the last book that Clarissa wrote. She had a masterly understanding of both food and history, with a lot of very funny asides which makes this book such a joy to read. I have learned lots of history without realising it, and some very funny facts about certain foods. What a wonderful reading companion she is. A great loss to su all.
Clarissa never did disappoint, and will be sadly missed. This massive tome is a very good and interesting read for anyone even vaguely interested in the history of what we eat, and covers the ordinary people, not just the well funded kitchens . I've been nose-in-book ever since it arrived. Recommended to all foodies.
This was a Christmas present for my sister who is also a fabulous cook and person! From the moment she unwrapped it, she couldn't put it down for long and kept dippiong into it whenever she had a second to spare.
I am no cook, but thoroughly enjoy anything that Clarissa Dickson Wright produces and, in this publcation: A History of English Food, she excels herself. Not only with the included recipes, but the sheer genius in the prose of her research.
This is a book to be enjoyed by anyone at all interested in food. Especially eating!! It is about time someone wrote about 'English Food' - there is just so much to learn and appreciate: you could leave your dinner party guests speechless with your new-found knowledge!
Don't just take my words for it, read the lengthy reviews written by others for the in-depth details. Only 2 problems, 2 of them rated A History of English Food with just 4 *s, why?? So ignore the reviews, just read it for yourself!
Love this book, I can hardly put it down, it's fascinating. It's huge, it's going to take weeks to read! But it's well written, easy to read, full of anecdotes as well as facts. If you like food & history it's a great read
An excellent history of English food. Full of information and well written. I first obtained it from my local library but wanted my own copy so as to be able to use it as a reference and dip back in from time to time.