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Other titles in the Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History series:
British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)by Colin Spencer
Synopses & Reviews
This delectable volume traces the rich variety of foods that are inescapably British and the thousand years of history behind them. Colin Spencer's masterful and witty account of Britain's culinary heritage explores what has influenced and changed eating in Britain — from the Black Death and the Reformation to the Industrial Revolution, the rise of capitalism, and the current pervasiveness of prepackaged and fast foods. The book also shows that in the twenty-first century, British food is experiencing a glorious resurgence, fueled by television gurus and innovative restaurants with firm roots in the British tradition.
Book News Annotation:
Those interested in food and things British will find this a fascinating volume, where the eating habits of the rich and poor are described from the time of the Angles and Saxons to the globalizing environment of the present. Spencer (he was food editor for the Guardian) has assembled a wealth of information into his narrative, describing types of native plants, meat, and fish; the impact of trade; foreign and political influences; and the habits, attitudes, and issues associated with eating, meals, and different foods, particularly with regard to different classes. Many original sources are repeated, which serve to flavor the story with first-hand experiences.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, English cuisine was known throughout Europe as extraordinarily stylish, tasteful, and contemporary, designed to satisfy sophisticated palates. So, as Colin Spencer asks, why did British food decline so direly that it became a world-wide joke, and how is it now climbing back into eminence? This delectable volume traces the rich variety of foods that are inescapably British — and the thousand years of history behind them.
Colin Spencer's masterful and witty account of Britain's culinary heritage explores what has influenced and changed eating in Britain — from the Black Death, the Enclosures, the Reformation, the Age of Exploration, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of capitalism to present-day threats posed by globalization, including factory farming, corporate control of food supplies, and the pervasiveness of prepackaged and fast foods. He situates the beginning of the decline in British cuisine in the Victorian age, when various social, historical, and economic factors — an emphasis on appearances, a worship of French
cuisine, the rise of Nonconformism, which saw any pleasure as a sin, the alienation from rural life found in burgeoning towns, the rise and affluence of the new bourgeoisie, and much else — created a fear that simple cooking was vulgar. The Victorians also harbored suspicions that raw foods were harmful, encouraged by the publication of a key cookbook of the period, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management.
However, twenty-first century British cooking is experiencing a glorious resurgence, fueled by television gurus and innovative restaurants with firm roots in the British tradition. This new interest in and respect for good food is showing the whole world, as Spencer puts it, that the old horror stories about British food are no longer true.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 382-386) and index.
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