Synopses & Reviews
From the lusciously tempting fruit in the Garden of Eden to the divine foie gras, here is a wickedly delicious smorgasbord of forbidden foods that have defined cultures around the world. Matching each of these taboo dishes to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, Stewart Lee Allen illustrates that when a pleasure as primal as eating is criminalized, the resulting tale is rarely less than astonishing.
Among the foods thought to encourage Lust, the love apple (now known as the tomato), has become the world’s most popular vegetable. But until the 19th century the fruit was considered Satanic by many because of its similarity to the mandrake, a plant believed to be possessed by demonic spirits (Joan of Arc’s alleged possession of one was among the crimes that sent her to the stake). The Gluttony “course” invites the reader to an ancient Roman dinner party where nearly every dish served–from poppy-crusted rodents to “Trojan Pork”–was considered a crime against the state. The vice known as Sloth introduces the sad story of “The Lazy Root,” the potato, whose popularity in Ireland led English Protestants to assert eating it bred degeneracy and idleness. When the devastating Great Famine struck in 1845, British moralists claimed it was God’s way of punishing the Irish for eating so sinful a food.
Filled with incredible history and the author’s travels to many of these exotic locales, In the Devil’s Garden also features recipes like the Matzpo ball stews outlawed by the Spanish Inquisition and the forbidden “chocolate champagnes” of the Aztecs. This is truly a delectable book that will be consumed by food lovers, culinary historians, amateur anthropologists, and armchair travelers alike. Bon appetite!
Drawing inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins, Stewart Lee Allen serves up a scintillating history of forbidden foods through the ages and how these taboos have defined cultures around the world.
About the Author
Stewart Lee Allen is also author of The Devil’s Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee, which was published in more than six countries. He was born in California and has lived in Calcutta, Paris, Katmandu, and Sydney. He lives in Brooklyn.