Food Culture in Great Britain

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 - Cooking - 238 pages
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Students, Anglophiles, and literature hounds will want to delve into this delightful survey of foodways of a culture both ancient and cutting edge. Only in recent years have modern kitchen conveniences become taken for granted all over Britain. British cooking has also made tremendous strides lately, and the changes in shopping and food options, preparation, restaurant-going, and diet are detailed. The cooking traditions and classic dishes for which Britain is known are described as well, as they still help to define the people.

Commercialization and globalization are shown to characterize British foodways today. For instance, Britain's regionalism is eroding. Health and environmental issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy have come to the fore. Television cook shows are all the rage. Women working outside the home and the increase in single-parent households fuel the demand for quick and pre-prepared meals. The trends are well supported by statistics. A timeline, glossary, and resource guide enhance the narrative.


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What a fantastic book! Although she documents modern foodways, food historian Laura Mason's is sopping with impeccably researched detail as far back as Bronze Age England. What fun it must have been researching the very old material and what piles and heapings of information she brings to us in juicy gobbets. She gleans a lot from Medieval medical manuscripts called "leechdoms" since cookery tomes date to the 13th c. She scours literature and archaelogical evidence letting us know things like, during the Anglo-Saxon period, people planted grain, plowed with oxen, but ate cattle, ate apples, plums, and in the 7th c, crumpet-like cakes with oily, pickled relish and cheese, that monks ate nearly nothing but fish, but in a tremendous variety stuffed and roasted and fried. Fruit, horsemeat, vegetables, honey: what we eat, what we don't, and why. Smartly prepared. Plus, Mason's fun in the present as well as the past, giving the 1655 instructions for how To Boyl a Capon with Ranioles, with Guardian journalist Allegra McEvedy (23 March 2010). 


Historical Overview
Major Foods and Ingredients
Typical Meals
Eating Out
Special Occasions
Regional Specialties
Diet and Health

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About the author (2004)

LAURA MASON is an independent scholar who lives in York, England. She writes on aspects of British food culture for various publications.

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