This -and all of Mintz’s books- are an essential reference to anyone who wishes to explore the social, economical, political and cultural aspects of food.
As an anthropologist, Sidney Mintz explains the intricate relationships between power, tradition and cultural meanings of food. This book has an emphasis on sugar, tea and honey.
The author explores the impact of the expansion of western empires and the consequences derived from the introduction of plantations such as sugarcane in the Americas.
It is fascinating to see how sugar pretty much became the most desired and expensive ingredient in Europe; and as its production increased it became accessible to all classes. Craved, feared or hated, sugar still seems to make the world go round.
Mintz doesn’t only talk about food as a cultural product but also as the result of political and economical interests with a high human cost, i.e. the case of slavery.
When freedom is taken from someone, the tiniest form of expression such as food preparation becomes all the way more meaningful as a reaffirmation of the cultural identity.
This book is a compilation of several essays which I think is good because they are meant to be understandable and pragmatic. A treat for nerdy foodies.