Friday, December 12, 2008

Food: A History, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

I discovered this book in the ‘suggested reading’ list in one of Felicity Lawrence’s books. It was described as witty and amusing in style, and so I thought I’d like to read something that made me smile.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is a name I’ve not heard before, but after reading Food, A History, I’ll certainly be looking for other books by this author. The chief charm of Fernandez-Armesto is that he is a totally engaging and absorbing writer, able to make what he finds interesting compelling reading. I find it rare these days to come across an author where you eagerly turn every page and are never disappointed. This book was it.

A history of food may sound like a silly idea, but the author ingeniously looks at eight different aspects of food history: the invention of cooking; religion and ritual in food, including a fascinating look at cannibalism and vegetarianism; livestock breeding; the agricultural revolution; food as determiner of social rank; the transmissions of food cultures between societies; and finally, the industrialisation of food.

Fernandez-Armesto’s brings his impressive erudition to the above topics to make this an easy going and delightful read. I wish I was this smart! A book to be enjoyed.

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