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Special issue - Food History

Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia / ed. Katarzyna Cwiertka

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Review Date: 24 April 2014

People must eat, even during wartime, preferably three times a day, civilians and soldiers, and of course children. How eating happens on and off the battlefield and amid wartime and post-war food storages is the focus of this compelling collection of essays, which also addresses the implications of wartime food practices for the outcome of wars, as well as post-war state building, culture, and society.


The Politics of Wine in Britain / Charles Ludington

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Review Date: 10 April 2014

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. Based on his dissertation at Columbia University, Ludington, Teaching Assistant Professor of History at North Carolina State University, offers in his first book a novel view of wine’s role in early modern British history.


Food Supply, Demand and Trade: Aspects of the Economic Relationship between Town and Countryside / eds. Piet van Cruijningen, Erik Thoen

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Review Date: 03 April 2014

It is a prerequisite that prosperous, expanding towns need to maintain a secure and ample food supply. How towns managed this issue, drawing foodstuffs from both their immediate hinterland and from further afield, and the resultant effect upon agricultural productivity are examined in this collection of 11 papers.


Reading and Writing Recipe Books 1550-1800 / eds. Michelle DiMeo, Sara Pennell

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Review Date: 14 November 2013

Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550–1800 includes 11 rigorously documented essays addressing a genre that began to attract attention following Susan Leonardi’s 1989 article, ‘Recipes for reading: Summer pasta, lobster a la Riseholme, and Key Lime Pie’.


The Oxford Handbook of Food History / ed. Jeffrey Pilcher

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Review Date: 29 August 2013

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. This scholarship has also begun analyzing foodways, meaning how a society understands the practice of eating and imbues meals with cultural meanings.


Sherbet and Spice: The Complete Story of Turkish Sweets and Desserts / Mary Isin

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Review Date: 25 July 2013

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.


Setting the Table for Julia Child: Gourmet Dining in America, 1934–1961 / David Strauss

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Review Date: 25 July 2013

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.


Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920 / Andrew P. Haley

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Review Date: 18 July 2013

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.


Alcohol in World History / Gina Hames

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Review Date: 18 July 2013

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.


Defining Culinary Authority: the Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650-1830 / Jennifer Davis

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Review Date: 18 July 2013

In 18th- and 19th-century France, notions of gastronomic taste and fine dining undoubtedly developed in aristocratic, privileged, and wealthy social spheres. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the salons, restaurants of the Palais-Royal, and dining societies. However, this spatial exclusivity itself did not dictate the culinary trends and aesthetics of the time. Jennifer J.


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From famine to feast, from grain riots to TV cookery programmes, dieting to domesticity, food features in almost every aspect of human societies since prehistoric times. At its annual summer conference in 2013 the Institute of Historical Research showcased the best of current scholarly writing, research and debate on the subject, with plenary lecturers included Ken Albala, Susanne Freidberg, Cormac Ó Gráda and Steven Shapin. This special issue of Reviews in History features books and reviews from many of the particpants in the conference.

Special issues

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