Near a thousand tables: a history of food

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Free Press, Jun 20, 2002 - Cooking - 258 pages
Fast Food Nation meets Guns, Germs, and Steel in this brilliant account of the history of food.

When eating escargots de Bourgogne at a three-star restaurant, you are consuming the world's oldest "cattle": Snails have been bred for food for more than 5,000 years, everywhere from Sumeria to ancient Rome to prehistoric Scotland. The nutmeg sprinkled on your eggnog was, once upon a time, the object of war between the Dutch and English. The oysters with which your meal began are, uniquely, eaten uncooked and unkilled...a food that unites you with your Neolithic ancestors.

These are a sampling of the remarkable connections found in Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's newest and most entertaining work yet, the story of the eight great revolutions in the history of food, from the origins of cooking to the inception of herding and agriculture to the industrialization and globalization of food. Because cuisine is a -- perhaps the -- defining characteristic of a culture, Near a Thousand Tables is a sampler of civilizations; because we meet our environment most intimately when we eat, this is an exploration in historical ecology. Because cooks were the first chemists, this is a history of science. Above all, perhaps, because food is universally appealing and irresistibly topical, this is unashamedly a book of human pleasures.

Boldly conceived, the work of a brilliant scholar who is "dazzlingly erudite" (Boston Globe), "contentious and provocative" (The Independent), "as icnonoclastic as he is ambitious" (The New York Times Book Review), Near a Thousand Tables is a remarkable achievement.

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Historian Fernández-Armesto sinks his teeth into the role of food in human history.Countless books have been written on this subject, and it must be noted that the author doesn't have much new to say ... Read full review

Near a thousand tables: a history of food

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Noted historian Fern ndez-Armesto (Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years) has undertaken to provide us with a brief alternative to volumes like Alan Davidson's The Oxford Companion to Food ... Read full review


Challenging Evolution

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About the author (2002)

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is a Professorial Fellow of Queen Mary, University of London, and a member of the Modern History Faculty at Oxford University. He is the author of thirteen books, including "Millenium: A History of the Last Thousand Years" and "Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature.

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