Synopses & Reviews
Twenty years in the making, here is the long-awaited magnum opus from one of the world's great authorities on the history and use of food. This Companion is packed with 2,650 delightfully written A-Z entries--including 39 feature articles on staple foods--the vast majority penned by the renowned Alan Davidson, with additional articles by over fifty specialists from as far afield as the Philippines, Norway, and Australia.
The coverage is spectacular, with the most wide-ranging treatment ever of foods and food products and how to use them. Indeed, the Companion covers everything--plant products, meats, birds and eggs, dairy products, nuts, fish and all seafoods, plant foods, cereals, and exotic foods. Davidson examines famous dishes from around the world--from cassoulet, croque-monsieur, and couscous, to spam, sherbet, and sonofabitch stew. There are over 140 entries on national and regional cuisines (Cajun cooking, Pennsylvania Dutch). Even Antarctica is included in this unique panorama. Other subjects covered in depth include food preservation, culinary terms and techniques, food science and diet, cookbooks and their authors, and the role of food in culture and religion. The book is enhanced by some 180 exquisite illustrations of foods by Laotian artist Soun Vannithone, ranging from the comfortingly familiar to the bizarre and rare. In fact, the common and the exotic mingle throughout, with the everyday (apples, apricots) and the exotic (akee, ambarella, baobab) found side by side.
Here then is a true cornucopia, offering all the flavors, styles, and staples of the world, past and present, from classical Greek and Roman cookery to modern Australian and Hawaiian cuisines. Food historians, food scientists, food writers, chefs, restaurateurs, amateur cooks, and everyone with a serious interest in cooking--and eating--will feast on this authoritative reference on food.
"No serious foodie should be without a serious food reference book. Unlike the similar Larousse Gastronomique, the Oxford text is approachable and lacks the sometimes overwhelming French bias of the former. This is great for deciphering the increasingly international American palate."--Associated Press.
"A valuable addition to the knowledge-seeking epicure's library."--Chicago Tribune
"..one of the best basic culinary reference books available."--Library Journal
"One of the most honored reference works ever about food, expanded and updated in keeping with the boom in food studies."--Philadelphia Inquirer
"An erudite companion, to be sure, but one that brims with good cheer...Tom Jaine attacks the subject with brio... Like the best encyclopedias, these Companions lead readers from the commonplace into the great mysteries of their subjects. Whether you like a little Siberian moss with your Dom Perignon, or a meatball with your Muscat, there's more than enough here to satisfy even the most fastidious tastes."--Kirkus Reviews
"A food book for all time... The canon of great food literature just got one fat volume greater... A must-have for any serious food follower"--Gourmet
"It is a grand book for anyone who enjoys the lore of food."--Greenwich Times
"What Samuel Johnson's 18th-century dictionary was to the English language the late Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food is to present-day gastronomy-- a far-reaching, erudite, and occasionally idiosyncratic guide covering more of its subject than anything published before... It's all here, everything from ancient food history to modern national cuisines."--The Wall Street Journal
An updated A-to-Z food reference packs three thousand entries on meats, eggs, dairy products, nuts, aquatic plant food, cereals, edible plants, and every other edible substance imaginable into a single volume, with dozens of articles on feature foods and special sections on drinks, food preparation and preservation, food science, culture, and religion.
Twenty years in the making, the first edition of Alan Davidson's magnum opus
appeared in 1999 to worldwide acclaim. Its combination of serious food history, culinary expertise, and entertaining serendipity was recognized as utterly unique. Including both an exhaustive catalogue of the foods that nourish humankind-fruit from tropical forests, mosses scraped from adamantine granite in Siberian wastes, or ears, eyeballs and testicles from a menagerie of animals-and a richly allusive commentary on the culture of food, whether expressed in literature and cookbooks, or as dishes peculiar to a country or community, the Oxford Companion to Food
immediately found distinction.
The study of food and food history was a new discipline at the time, but one that has developed exponentially in the years since. There are now university departments, international societies, and academic journals, in addition to a wide range of popular literature exploring the meaning of food in the daily lives of people around the world.
Alan Davidson famously wrote eighty percent of the first edition, which was praised for its wit as well as its wisdom. Tom Jaine, the editor of the second edition, worked closely with Jane Davidson and Helen Saberi to ensure that new contributions continue in the same style. The result is an expanded volume that remains faithful to Davidson's peerless work. The text has been updated where necessary to keep pace with a rapidly changing subject, and Jaine assiduously alerts readers to new avenues in food studies. Agriculture; archaeology; food in art, film, literature, and music; globalization; neuroanatomy; and the Silk Road are covered for the first time, and absorbing new articles on confetti; cutlery; doggy bags; elephant; myrrh; and potluck have also found their way into the Companion.
About the Author
"The 'O.C.F' is so entertainingly written that it's easy to forget it's a work of true scholarship. Published in 1999, it was received with great enthusiasm in and out of the food world and found its way onto thousands of bookshelves."--The New York Times Magazine
"From the day it was published--no, from the day the bound proofs arrived--it became the one basic reference work of food scholarship, the volume to which we will all turn first whenever we have a question about food--historical, cultural, or botanical.... It is undoubtedly the most important encyclopedic volume about food published in our lifetimes."--Vogue
"A food book for all time.... The canon of great food literature just got one fat volume greater.... A must-have for any serious food follower."--Gourmet
"The publishing event of the year, if not the decade.... Alan Davidson, the legendarily learned (and eccentric) former British diplomat and international authority on seafood...and godfather to food scholars around the world, has written most of the 2,650 entries, in itself a stupendous feat.... Everyone seriously interested in food must own this book.... A great achievement."--Corby Kummer, The New York Times Book Review
"It is hard to imagine a more congenial companion than Davidson.... This massive volume is nothing short of the grandest of SMORGASBORDS, a sumptuous BUFFET with more SAVORIES, ZAKUSKI and SWEETIES than your typical state dinner. Davidson spent 23 years working on this book, and one can see why: many of the 2,650 entries are worth a separate volume of their own, if not dozens.... A road map to food with a truly global reach... For serious food historians, this will no doubt become an irreplaceable companion. For those amateurs who are merely fascinated by food and who appreciate lucid and witty writing that seeks to deflate the pretensions of your average gastronome, it will provide hours of amusement."--Time Magazine
"A masterly work with a variety of voices, from the straightforward, almost dry, to the quirky and the witty. It will anchor my other research materials, nudging aside 'Larousse Gastronomique' and Waverly Root's 'Food'.... It's hard not to be awed by 892 pages dense with extremely thorough and well-written entries, enhanced by cross-references and indexes and larded with anecdotes and strong opinions."--Florence Fabricant, The New York Times
"Serendipity is a rewarding way to negotiate this colossal volume. Looking up 'chuck' will lead you to 'chuck wagon,' to 'sourdough,' and to 'sonofabitch stew, a cowboy dish of unusual character'.... Some day the field of food history...will achieve full academic status and respectability. This will be largely thanks to Mr. Davidson's labors and 'The Oxford Companion to Food.'" --Paul Levy, The Wall Street Journal
"A culinary sine qua non.... This 892-page tour de force will enlighten you as to the history, cultivation, and flavor of every edible you've ever heard of and hundreds more you never even knew existed." --Men's Journal
"Outstanding.... Davidson deserves the eternal gratitude of researchers everywhere.... Destined to become a classic." --Library Journal
Table of Contents
Alan Davidson: A Tribute, Tom Jaine
Preface to the Second Edition, Tom Jaine
Introduction, Alan Davidson
Notes on Using this Book
The Oxford Companion to Food A-Z
Mapsof Food Migrations