This lavishly illustrated book on food through the ages is a fairly scholarly account. Each of the ten sections is written by a different author, a specialist in the era and area. The editor himself is a history professor, one of whose specialties is medieval cuisine. Starting with hunter-gatherers and early farming, the book takes us through Greece and Rome, Imperial Chine, medieval Islamic foods and customs, the European Middle Ages, post Renaissance and the foods from the new world, the changes that occurred in the 1800s, French cuisine and the changes it has gone through (a LOT of changes) and the rise of the celebrity chef, the development of the restaurant, and the changing face of food in the modern age.
It’s a very interesting read if one is into social history. Because of the multiple authors, there is a bit of a lack of flow between chapters, but this is actually good: the authors come from a variety of countries, so we get to see the international side of things. This is not a cookbook; this is a book about food itself and how it fit into the society, with all its relations to status, religion, and wealth. I found it fascinating, although it did drag in a places. It reminds me of a really good college text book, the kind you find yourself reading ahead in while neglected one’s other classwork.
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