Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking British
Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century
Wilson, C. Anne
Academy Chicago Publishers
Published: June 1, 2003
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SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
. . . a delightful sojourn into the daily lives of our ancestors and a comment on where much of our taste in food came from.
"Glimpses of how people [in Britain] cooked and brewed, and of what they
have been swallowing and chewing since that land was first occupied, give a far more vivid view of our past than can any lists of kings, queen, battles, and political parties."
Thus The Guardian spoke about this most unusual approach to social
history, in which C. Anne Wilson traces culinary practices and preferences from our earliest prehistoric forbears all the way down to the generation of the Industrial Revolution, and offers an extraordianary taste of the times. This work of first-rate
scholarship is enornously readable and entertaining; its publication in the UK was greeted with wild enthusiasm, and the author has prepared a new introduction and updated bibliography for this first US edition.
American readers will become
acquainted with the sources of many of our current tastes and conventions. Discover "macrows," the prototype of macaroni, and that "whales, porpoises and sturgeon were all royal fish." Meringue, to the Elizabethans, was a "dishful of snow," and rather
difficult to whip up before the advent of the fork in the late 17th century. Before the Reformation, all buns were "hot cross" in order to "ward off evil spirits that might prevent the bread rising." Wilson provides a tabletop perspective on class
structure, religion, politics, and social custom, generously seasoned with such culinary and cultural tidbits as the importance of salt in English history, and the role of romance in England's first taste of the wines of southernmost France.
Adventurous eaters who wish to dine as their ancestors did may do so; Ms. Wilson includes many recipes-such as 17th century rice pudding-which add flavor of a unique kind. This cornucopia of custom and cuisine provides plenty of food for thought
for everyone, and what could be of more interest if we are, indeed, what we eat?
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