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Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking [Hardcover]

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Retail Value $ 34.95  
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Item Number 379502  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   460
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.9 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 30, 2007
Publisher   Bloomsbury USA
ISBN  1596914106  
EAN  9781596914100  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Chronicles the social history of Britain through the evolution of its food, tracing the development of aristocratic tastes and street food across the country from pre-Roman times to the present day.

Publishers Description
A fascinating history of how Britain learned to cook, from prehistory to the modern age.
Written with a storyteller's flair and packed with astonishing facts, Taste is a sumptuous social history of Britain told through the development of its cooking. It encompasses royal feasts and street food, the skinning of eels and the making of strawberry jelly, mixing tales of culinary stars with those of the invisible hordes cooking in kitchens across the land. Beginning before Roman times, the book journeys through the ingredients, equipment, kitchens, feasts, fads, and famines of the British; it covers the piquancy of Norman cuisine, the influx of undreamed-of spices and new foods from the East and the New World, the Tudor pumpkin pie that journeyed with the founding fathers to become America's national dish, the austerity of rationing during World War II, and the birth of convenience foods and take-away, right up to the age of Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal, and Jamie Oliver. The first trade book to tell the story of British cooking—which is, of course, the history that led up to American colonial cooking as well—Taste shows that kitchens are not only places of steam, oil, and sweat, but of politics, invention, cultural exchange, commerce, conflict, and play.

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More About Kate Colquhoun

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kate Colquhoun is the author of "The Busiest Man in England" and "Taste." In addition to writing for several newspapers and magazines, she appears regularly on radio and television. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Kate Colquhoun was born in 1964.

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Product Categories
1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > History > Europe   [2054  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Inside the English Stomach  Jul 23, 2008
Though being terribly fond of food, I have absolutely no interest in its preparation. Having said that, I do have an abiding, indeed, insatiable, ahem, appetite for "social history," particularly that of Great Britain. [Indeed, what is more "social" than food and the consumption thereof?] And if you share this particular passion, then you will undoubtedly savor "Taste." Ms. Colquhoun is sufficiently comfortable with her subject matter that she is able to move from hand to mouth, hearth to table, plate to plate, and century to century with the same lighthearted yet authoritative dexterity displayed by the author of one of my favorite books of the last several years, Judith Flanders in "Inside the Victorian Home." One need not pay much attention to the ingredients of every dish described to get the gist of what the food represented in the particular period under discussion, but one can't help marvel at the research undoubtedly required to produce the book and the author's enviable writing abilities which make what could have been a humdrum tale such a terrific read. Ms. Colquhoun (somewhat audaciously) undertook to tell the story of Britain through its cooking, and that is exactly what she's done, to the delight and edification of her readers. Highly recommended.
A culinary tour of Britain through the centuries  Apr 20, 2008
From table-groaning Roman feasts (for men only!) to today's packaged foods and ethnic varieties, journalist Colquhoun takes the reader on a fascinating and comprehensive culinary tour of Britain through the centuries.

While she herself never refers to the term "British cuisine" as an oxymoron, she quotes plenty of travelers - lots of them French - who bemoan the lack of anything good to eat. An exception, however, is the 17th century visitor Henri Misson who exclaims, "BLESSED BE HE THAT INVENTED PUDDING."

Delving into diaries, letters and cookbooks galore, Colquhoun describes the tables of the rich, the poor and those in between, the fads, imports, techniques and equipment that transformed British kitchens through the centuries. From the vantage point of the kitchen, she explores manners, morals and politics, giving us a lively, taste- and scent-infused social history.

Moving chronologically, she organizes her chapters by era, i.e., Roman, Medieval, Tudor, etc. She describes the influences on cooking, from the craze for sugaring everything (increased availability) in Elizabethan times to Cromwell's Puritan parsimony.

Coffee was a novelty in the 1600s and during Cromwell's reign "Coffee houses appealed to a society in which ale houses and taverns were frowned on." Trade routes naturally affected the availability and influx of new foods and ingredients and Colquhoun shows the influences of new ingredients, from the spices of the East to the New World's tomato and chocolate.

There are lots of entertaining descriptions of the excess and extravagance of the rich and powerful, but Colquhoun also takes us into the more intimate and practical kitchens of the aspiring middle class. She shows how the industrial revolution ravaged the diet of the poor and how modernity has continued the trend of removing us from an intimate knowledge of raw food and where it comes from, while at the same time celebrating a back-to-the-land culinary style.

Filled with detail, fashion and personality; opinionated, witty and thoughtful, Colquhoun succeeds in looking at the whole of British life through its food.
Great details but worrisome error.  Mar 6, 2008
I've been reading and enjoying this culinary history, However, on a subject which I happen to know a lot about, mechanical roasting jacks, the author's mention of them on page 133 is seriously flawed and now makes me worry about the rest of her book. She writes "....propelled by gravity weights at the end of tightly wound springs...."; this is incorrect since these jacks were powered either by weights or springs, not by both, and the spring-wound versions were substantially later. She continues "....accompanied by a metronomical tick..." which also is false since these jacks, unlike clocks, do not tick but simply rotate as they run down. An article by my wife, Jeanne Schinto, in Winter 2004 Gastronomica offers details on these early kitchen machines; it can be read on my website
The breadth of the English palate  Jan 8, 2008
Victorian England may have started a downward trend in culinary preferences, (lasting well into the twentieth century) but one would never know it after reading Kate Colquhoun's fact-filled new book, "Taste", a compilation of everything digestible from the Middle Ages onward. Colquhoun will have the reader scrambling for his or her dictionary at almost every turn of the page as she sorts out the foodstuffs, cooking, dining and their historical analogies. It's an exhaustive and compelling offering.

The author is consistent in her reminders that in earlier centuries the Brits were really onto something in terms of what they ate. The Tudors and the Stuarts were no slacks when it came to fine dining...indeed they gave gluttony its headstart. But the masses, too, enjoyed a growing identity with their own comestibles as Britain lurched between rulers and conquests. The French make more than a cameo appearance throughout "Taste", much to the liking or the chagrin of their Channel counterparts. (depending on the season, so to speak) Colquhoun is very good at connecting the dots of history and food and she brightens the chapters by telling us how certain phrases like "done to a turn" or "making ends meet" actually came out of kitchen connections.

"Taste" often gets buried under its own encyclopaedic weight. There's almost too much information of every table listing... so much so that a certain somnolence becomes the reader. A heavier editing and a lighter narrative would have helped this book, but nonetheless, "Taste" is a welcome addition to a growing number of food histories. Colquhoun has researched her material thoroughly and that is very much to her credit. To that end, "Taste" is worth the read.

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