Spicing Up Britain: The Multicultural History of British Food

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Reaktion Books, Apr 15, 2008 - Cooking - 283 pages
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From the arrival of Italian ice-cream vendors and German pork butchers, to the rise of Indian curry as the national dish, Spicing Up Britain uncovers the fascinating history of British food over the last 150 years. Panikos Panayi shows how a combination of immigration, increased wealth, and globalization have transformed the eating habits of the English from a culture of stereotypically bland food to a flavorful, international cuisine.

Along the way, Panayi challenges preconceptions about British identity, and raises questions about multiculturalism and the extent to which other cultures have entered British society through the portal of food. He argues that Britain has become a country of vast ethnic diversity, in which people of different backgrounds—but still British—are united by their readiness to sample a wide variety of foods produced by other ethnic groups. Taking in changes to home cooking, restaurants, grocery shops, delis, and cookbooks, Panayi’s flavorful account will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in ethnic cooking, food history, and the social history of Britain.

            “Wearing his twin hats of foodie and social historian, Panikos Paniyi can appall as well as engender salivation on his tour d’horizon of the multicultural history of British food. His book demonstrates convincingly that whether drawing on its former colonial and imperial possessions . . . or on its European neighbors, the openness of British society has truly enriched its diet and produced its present-day variegated cuisine.”—Washington Times

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About the author (2008)

Panikos Panayi is professor of European history at De Montfort University. His father was a Cypriot pastry chef working in London.

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