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ISSN 1749-8155

Special issue - Food History

From famine to feast, from grain riots to TV cookery programmes, dieting to domesticity, food features in almost every aspect of human societies since prehistoric times. At its annual summer conference in 2013 the Institute of Historical Research showcased the best of current scholarly writing, research and debate on the subject, with plenary lecturers included Ken Albala, Susanne Freidberg, Cormac Ó Gráda and Steven Shapin. This special issue of Reviews in History features books and reviews from many of the particpants in the conference.

Review Date: 
14 Nov 2013

Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550–1800 includes 11 rigorously documented essays addressing a genre that began to attract attention following Susan Leonardi’s 1989 article, ‘Recipes for reading: Summer pasta, lobster a la Riseholme, and Key Lime Pie’.(1) The editors, Michelle DiMeo and Sarah Pennell, seek to demonstrate how far the study of medical/culinar

Review Date: 
18 Jul 2013

In 18th- and 19th-century France, notions of gastronomic taste and fine dining undoubtedly developed in aristocratic, privileged, and wealthy social spheres. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the salons, restaurants of the Palais-Royal, and dining societies. However, this spatial exclusivity itself did not dictate the culinary trends and aesthetics of the time. Jennifer J.

Review Date: 
4 Jul 2013

When comparing European agriculture in the early 1960s with that existing before the First World War, two principal differences are evident. Firstly, the productivity of agriculture in the 1960s was considerably higher, principally as the consequence of the intensive use of modern technologies such as modern machinery, fertilisers, pesticides or hybrid seeds.

Review Date: 
17 Jul 2013

During the long 18th century imported foodstuffs came to play a central role in the everyday experiences of British people. Women sipped tea in parlours and drawing rooms, while men walked out to coffee houses, taking snuff as they strode, before returning home later to enjoy a dinner of savoury dishes and sweet delicacies laced with sugar and spice.

Review Date: 
29 Aug 2013

The field of food studies has gained significant traction over the previous two decades. Across a range of disciplines, from religious studies to anthropology to history, among others, a growing body of books, articles, and conference papers has explored the history of particular foods.

Review Date: 
18 Jul 2013

In the conclusion to Alcohol in World History, Gina Hames observes that the influence of alcohol has been ‘omnipresent in human history’ (p. 134). It is undoubtedly the case that, while not the dominant psychoactive substance in all human cultures, alcohol has played a more pervasive and significant role in the history of human thought, ritual and economy than any other drug.

Review Date: 
25 Jul 2013

Julia Childs is a familiar figure to both historians of food, and those who study shifting discourses of domesticity in the USA. Her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, written in collaboration with Simone Beck (known as Simca) and to a lesser extent Louisette Bertholle, was immediately successful when first published in 1961.

Review Date: 
27 Jun 2013

Over 40 years ago, Robert Darnton proposed to evaluate the Enlightenment from its authors’ perspectives. After all, he observed, they were ‘men of flesh and blood, who wanted to fill their bellies, house their families, and make their way in the world’.(1) But with what did they fill their bellies, and when, and how much?

Review Date: 
11 Jul 2013

I must preface this review by saying that I feel the discussion of human-animal interactions has been lacking a book like this for some time. From the outset, this book is fundamentally more than historical in its impact. The topics discussed, and so vividly illustrated, are anthropological assessments for the modern world, using history as base data.

Review Date: 
11 Jul 2013

It is possible today to admire reconstructions of medieval kitchens at several historical monuments across Europe. Many of these displays have been carefully researched and tend to provide a fascinating insight into aspects of everyday life in the Middle Ages.

Review Date: 
18 Jul 2013

With this book Andrew Haley offers an innovative account of changes in restaurants and their customers. The history of dining out in America is not simply a story about increasing culinary options but rather one that features frequent shifts in social class representation and cultural preference.

Review Date: 
25 Jul 2013

The Ottoman Empire, over the course of its existence, evolved a cultural synthesis of strands coming from its Arab, Persian and Byzantine antecedents, as well as the folk culture of its constituent populations. Culinary traditions were part of this legacy, and the taste for sweets an ever popular and refined element, constituting a repertoire extending into modern Turkey and the Middle East.

Review Date: 
11 Jul 2013

This book is highly recommended, particularly for food historians who want to step away from their musty old texts to imagine what it would be like to work in the dirt for a while. Archaeology is a closely related sister discipline, though not well represented among the myriad fields that make up food studies today.

Review Date: 
3 Apr 2014

It is a prerequisite that prosperous, expanding towns need to maintain a secure and ample food supply. How towns managed this issue, drawing foodstuffs from both their immediate hinterland and from further afield, and the resultant effect upon agricultural productivity are examined in this collection of 11 papers.

Review Date: 
10 Apr 2014

In this imaginative, ambitious and well-researched book, Charles Ludington presents a provocative thesis analyzing how changes in alcohol consumption constituted power, influence and legitimacy in politics over two centuries.

Review Date: 
24 Apr 2014

People must eat, even during wartime, preferably three times a day, civilians and soldiers, and of course children.