Near a Thousand Tables

A History of Food

By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9780743226448, 272pp.)

Publication Date: June 4, 2002

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Critically acclaimed as a landmark in culinary writing, this savory and engrossing account by a New York Times Notable author leaves no placemat unturned as it chronicles the fascinating story of food across the centuries. We are what we eat; every ingredient of our past and present identities may be divined from the food on our tables. In this ambitious and brilliantly achieved work, world-renowned historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto charts the eventful course of humankind's relationship to food through the ages. Fernandez-Armesto leads readers through the eight great revolutions in the world history of food: the origins of cooking, which set us on a course apart from other species; the ritualization of eating, which brought meaning to our relationships with what we ate; the inceptions of herding and agriculture, perhaps the two greatest revolutions of all; the rise of social inequality, which made food a status symbol and led to the development of haute cuisine; the long-range trade in food, which did much to break down all cultural barriers; the ecological exchanges, which revolutionized the distribution of plants and livestock; and, finally, the globalization of mass-produced food. Revealing everything from what vegetarians have in common with cannibals to what the Aztec derivation is for "avocado, " Near a Thousand Tables is superb--a narrative history of the highest order.
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