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The Penguin Companion to Food [Paperback]

By Alan Davidson (Author)
Our Price $ 25.50  
Retail Value $ 30.00  
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Item Number 160757  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   1104
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 7.6" Height: 2.1"
Weight:   2.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 31, 2002
Publisher   Penguin (Non-Classics)
ISBN  0142001635  
EAN  9780142001639  
UPC  051488030003  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Renowned food expert and cookbook writer Alan Davidson, along with more than fifty specialists from all over the world, packs this fascinating volume with more than 2,600 entries on every type of food-from plant and dairy products, meats, poultry, and nuts to seafoods, cereals, and exotic foods. They examine famous dishes from around the world, from cassoulet to sonofabitch stew, and include more than 140 entries on national and regional cuisines-even edibles from Antarctica. Handsomely illustrated and augmented with information on food preservation, food science, and more, this extraordinary book is an essential resource for anyone with a serious interest in the central place of food in human life.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > General   [9481  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Meals > Breakfast   [58  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Reference   [439  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Reference > Encyclopedias > Cooking   [47  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Same as the Oxford Companion  Jun 10, 2006
I spent a lot of time deciding on which of the two companions to food to purchase. Given that the Penguin Companion was half the cost and by the same author, it won out. I was surprised though, when I held the book in my hands to read at the bottom of the front cover "Originally published as the Oxford Companion to Food." Although I am glad I am getting the quality and authoritativeness the Oxford series provides, it sure would have made my decision a lot easier to have known this bit of information.

The Oxford/Penguin companion is a terrific encyclopedia of foods. Davidson's essays are very readable and enlightening. Like all of the Oxford companions, it is a 5 star read.
Attention Food Lovers!  Nov 20, 2005
This is a fascinating book. I find myself flipping from article to article and I have trouble putting it down. It is truly comprehensive, and well organized. It makes for fun reading, but is also a great reference if you come across some sort of obscure food item in a recipe or elsewhere.
Great Reading. Some gaps. No recipes!  Oct 31, 2005
`The Penguin Companion to Food', edited by the noted English culinary writer and diplomat, Alan Davidson is a foody reader's compendium to lots of interesting articles about sources, history, some people, and most places regarding food and drink. It is quite properly named a `companion' rather than an `encyclopedia', since, unlike the seemingly similar `Larousse Gastronomique', it contains no recipes whatsoever. This is not an accident or oversight, as Davidson clearly states in the introduction that this was an editorial policy from the outset.

This book has a distinctly British flavor about it with its selection of article topics. While there is an excellent longish article on Elizabeth David, easily the most important British food writer of the 20th century, there are no articles on either Julia Child or James Beard, the two most popular and well known American food writers. Alternately, there is an excellent article on M. F. K. David who is much less well known even among Americans. Child and Beard are mentioned but once at the end of an article on American cookbook writing. This choice is an excellent symptom of what this book is all about. It is not about cooking so much as the writing about food culture. While Child and Beard were cookbook writers par excellence, David and Fisher dealt less with food than they did with appetites, impressions, scholarship, and recollections. It is noteworthy that David should be one of the very few writers honored with an article here, as Davidson was very much a student and protege of Elizabeth David.

The book is oddly selective in other ways. It has an article of goodly length on H. J. Heinz, but nothing on Milton Hershey. These two men are, in the United States, of at least equal renown; they were contemporaries, and both set up their businesses in Pennsylvania at about the same time. Another oddity is the fact that there is an article on Nepal, where, I suspect, very little grows, but no article on Senegal on the west coast of Africa and the ancestral home of many slaves brought to the new world and, therefore, the source of many food memories which contributed to `soul food' cuisine.

This is not to say this is not a valuable book. Many articles give fuller coverage to many culinary subjects than even books that specialize in some subjects. Two sidebar articles on pasta and chilis, for example, give fuller lists of the varieties of these two items than many good cookbooks on the subject. The pasta article is also careful to indicate the regionality of the names of some pasta shapes. I believe the pasta article, for one, could have been even better if it had given us pictures of the various shapes. I really feel that Orecchiette doesn't really look like ears, even though all texts describing it always say it does.

The book also avoids some common mistakes with accurate information on, for example, the components of the sharp vapors from a cut onion. Unlike lots of simpler minds, the article on same points out that these tearing fumes are really composed of many different components, which is part of the reason why most methods for avoiding them don't work.

The book is so dedicated to it's no recipe policy that it doesn't even give us articles on some basic preparations such as `buerre blanc'. It also does not even include recipes for such basics as mayonnaise or pesto.

This book is very good, but it is not as valuable a culinary resource as the aforementioned `Larousse Gastronomique' which provides thousands of basic recipes and pictures for just about everything imaginable, including uniforms of Renaissance culinary guild members. If you are a foody who must own every notable book on food, then buy this. But, if you are only interested in books to help you cook, get the Larousse. Note that the hardcover version of this volume is published by Oxford University Press and is therefore known as `The Oxford Companion to Food'.

Astonishing compendium of gastronomic lore  Apr 18, 2003
The Penguin Companion to Food is the paperback edition of the Oxford Companion to Food, so see more reviews there.

Considering how big a part food plays in our lives, it's amazing how little most of us know about it. This is a book for those who are curious about what they eat or what they might be eating if they lived in another culture. The range of information is astonishing, especially considering that this is the work of one man: for example, you will find articles on Babylonian cookery, Bacon, Bacteria, Badger, Bagel, Baking, Banana, Barbecue... Well, you get the idea, and that is just a selection of the Ba's! As a Canadian, I was curious to see how much there was on the cuisine of my native land, and I was not disappointed: saskatoon berries, moose nose, and poutine are all mentioned, and there is a full page on Canadian cookery in general. The author is not afraid to dive into some of the darker corners and might even be suspected of having a taste for the bizarre -- devoting several paragraphs, for example, to the subject of whether anyone actually eats the brains of live monkeys. There is a wealth of knowledge here, presented in a literate and entertaining way.


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