Foodie Faves

Food. You eat and drink every day of your life, but do you ever wonder why people eat the things they do? These books delve into the fascinating history of our food.

Wine and the Vine: An Historical Geography of Viticulture and the Wine Trade

By Tim Unwin

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Wine and the Vine provides an introduction to the historical geography of viticulture and the wine trade from prehistory to the present. The rich symbolic and cultural significance of wine is related to its evolution as a commercial product.

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Time For Tea: Travels Through China and India in Search of Tea

By Jason Goodwin

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On a personal journey through the serpentine paths of the tea trade - from China to India to London- Jason Goodwin sets off to discover the history of tea from its ancient beginnings in the Far East to its influence today. He evokes both past and present in this lively and intriguing traveler's journal, as he traces the development of the tea trade from its origins in Canton factories through the Opium Wars and the settlement of British India to the state of the art today.
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The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World

By Michael Pollan

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"Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—-sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—-with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?"
Also available on DVD.

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The Book of Chocolate

By Jeanne Bourin

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"This lavishly illustrated book, The Book of Chocolate takes readers on a journey through the history and production of the world's most seductive confection: chocolate. Learn how the cocoa bean, first enjoyed by the Aztecs, has traveled around the globe to produce endless variations of chocolate. Through the eyes of food critics, chefs, journalists, and historians, this book explores the rich history of chocolate, along with a modern-day investigation of its many flavors and forms. A list of tantalizing recipes and a guide to the finest purveyors of chocolate worldwide make this volume indispensable to chocolate lovers everywhere."

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Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History

By H.E. Jacob

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"Yeast, water, flour, and heat. How could this simple mixture have been the cause of war and plague, celebration and victory, supernatural vision and more? In this remarkable and all-encompassing volume written in 1944, H. E. Jacob takes us through six thousand dynamic years of bread's role in politics, religion, technology, and beyond. Who were the first bakers? Why were bakers distrusted during the Middle ages? How did bread cause Napoleon's defeat? Why were people buried with bread? Six Thousand Years of Bread has the answers. Jacob follows the story from its beginning in ancient Egypt and continues through to modern times. The poignant and inspiring conclusion of the book relays the author's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, subsisting on bread made of sawdust."
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Salt: A World History

By Mark Kurlansky

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"Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take it for granted; however, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in this world-encompassing book, salt--the only rock we eat--has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind. Until about 100 years ago, when modern geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores."
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Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit

By Mort Rosenblum

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Until one stops to notice, an olive is only a lowly lump at the bottom of a martini. But not only does a history of olives traverse climates and cultures, it also reveals fascinating differences in processing, production, and personalities. Aficionados of the noble little fruit expect miracles from it as a matter of course. In 1986, Mort Rosenblum bought a small farm in Provence and acquired 150 neglected olive trees that were old when the Sun King ruled France. He brought them back to life and became obsessed with olives, their cultivation, and their role in international commerce.
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Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal

By Margaret Visser

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Presented as a meal, each chapter represents a different course or garnish. Borrowing from Byron's classic poem "Don Juan" for her title ("Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner"), writer Margaret Visser looks to the most ordinary American dinner for her subject - corn on the cob with butter and salt, roast chicken with rice, salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, and ice cream - submerging herself in the story behind each food. In this indulgent and perceptive guide we hear the history of Corn Flakes, why canned California olives are so unsatisfactory (they're picked green, chemically blackened, then sterilized), and the fact that in Africa, citrus fruit is eaten rind and all. For food lovers of all kinds, this unexpectedly funny and serious book is a treasure of information, shedding light on one of our most favorite pastimes.

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Michael Jackson's Beer Companion: The World's Great Beer Styles, Gastronomy, and Traditions

By Michael Jackson

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Anthropologists can't decide which came first - bread or beer, but beer expert Michael Jackson votes for beer. In this combination travelogue and cultural history he identifies forty-one distinctive traditional styles of beer and highlights one hundred-fifty breweries that are benchmarks of excellence. There is even a small collection of recipes that are great companions to beer or that use beer in the dish.
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In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food

By Stewart Lee Allen

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"Deliciously organized by the Seven Deadly Sins, here is a scintillating history of forbidden foods through the ages--and how these mouth-watering taboos have defined cultures around the world. From the lusciously tempting fruit in the Garden of Eden to the divine foie gras, Stewart Lee Allen engagingly illustrates that when a pleasure as primal as eating is criminalized, there is often an astonishing tale to tell. Among the foods thought to encourage Lust, the love apple (now known as the tomato) was thought to possess demonic spirits until the nineteenth century.

"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. While the vice known as Sloth introduces the sad story of 'The Lazy Root' (the potato), whose popularity in Ireland led British moralists to claim that the Great Famine was God's way of punishing the Irish for eating a food that bred degeneracy and idleness.

"Filled with incredible food history and the author's travels to many of these exotic locales, In the Devil's Garden also features recipes like the matzo-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."

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