All posts tagged: Reference

The real Mrs Beeton. The story of Eliza Acton

By Shelia Hardy The history press, 2011   Eliza Acton (1799-1859) has proved herself to be quite the elusive black swan!   She was, like several other female national treasures, a very educated and inquisitive woman who by choice, chance or both remained single until her death and her private life remains mostly a mystery.   In short: she went from being a pretty normal Ipswich girl to become a poet, governess, entrepreneur (she owned a school for girls), researcher, writer and food-security and nutrition literacy advocate…. But she must have had other passions, pursuits, desires…of which we know very little.   Hardy, the author of this book certainly made a big effort to track down as much information as possible not necessarily about Miss Acton since it appears to be so little, but about her family, acquaintances, political and social events that influenced Eliza’s life and work.   I have to say with all honesty that I found the first half of the book a bit too slow. And grew somehow impatient. Nevertheless I carried …

Cumin, Camels, and Caravans. A Spice Odyssey

By Gary Paul Nabhan California Studies in Food and Culture An S. Mark Taper Foundation Book in Jewish Studies University of California Press 2014 This book contains many self-fulfilling prophecies all of them involve the constant return to the places where spices learnt the heat of many fires, the taste of many pots and the unique use and combination in each land where they have been introduced. Spices have been smuggled, stolen, proudly displayed and even accidentally taken far and wide across the world. This is a cross between an academic research, a travel journal and a recollection of multi-sensory memoirs told in 13 recipes following a transcontinental treasure map to track down 26 different spices. The spices explored have an interconnected destiny marked primarily by trade, imperialism and migrations involving Muslims, Christians and Jews. Beginning in Neolithic Levantine, through the ancient empires, moving both east to Asia and west to Europe following the spice and silk routes and eventually joining the Columbian exchange in and out of the Americas as they shaped and gave …

Kitchen Garden Cookbook: Potatoes

By Jane McMorland Hunter National Trust Books (2011) This a surprising little book! In just 95 pages you can become a knowledgeable potato aficionado. The book is divided into seven sections that cover from the history of potatoes and their journey from the Andes to Europe and the rest of the Americas; how to grow potatoes; potato varieties; recipes and a list of the National Trust Kitchen Gardens.

English Bread and Yeast Cookery

by Elizabeth David Penguin 1979  “All which circumstances I must willingly prosecute to the full, because as Bread is the best nourrishment of all other, being well made, so it is simply the worst being marred in the ill handling”. Dr. Muffett. To those lost souls who have not yet read Elizabet David, I urge you to plunge into 592 pages of enlightening goodness.  I myself was completely  oblivious to her writing, a few months ago she was just a “to look up” note on my notebook.

Love in a Dish and Other Pieces

By M.F.K. Fisher. This little book is part of the penguin series: “Great Food”. Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher like Julia Child had a similar life changing experience when she spend a great deal of time in France in the late 1920s. Perhaps unlike Child she is less known outside the U.S. although she made the first translation to English of The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin.  But her prolific career as a food writer inspired many people to approach the topics of food and travel with a fresh and candid view, which ironically was completely opposite to the state of the American economy after the Great Depression.

Food and Eating: An Anthropological perspective. You Eat What You Are

By Robin Fox I have to say that technically this is not a book, it is an article/working paper published by the Social Issues Research Centre a British independent, non-profit organisation, founded to conduct research on social and lifestyle issues, providing new insights on human behaviour and social relations. You can access the PDF file here. Unfortunately in academia many research works don’t necessarily have the most catchy titles and I have to say this is one of those cases. I personally find the document deeply interesting and witty, so I’ll try to illustrate why I liked it, hoping you feel drawn to read it for yourselves.

Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions Into Eating, Culture And The Past

By Sidney Mintz Beacon Press (1996) 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 …