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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.