The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking

By Kate Colquhoun
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596914100, 480pp.)

Publication Date: October 30, 2007

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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A fascinating history of how Britain learned to cook, from prehistory to the modern age.
Written with a storyteller's flair and packed with astonishing facts, Taste is a sumptuous social history of Britain told through the development of its cooking. It encompasses royal feasts and street food, the skinning of eels and the making of strawberry jelly, mixing tales of culinary stars with those of the invisible hordes cooking in kitchens across the land. Beginning before Roman times, the book journeys through the ingredients, equipment, kitchens, feasts, fads, and famines of the British; it covers the piquancy of Norman cuisine, the influx of undreamed-of spices and new foods from the East and the New World, the Tudor pumpkin pie that journeyed with the founding fathers to become America's national dish, the austerity of rationing during World War II, and the birth of convenience foods and take-away, right up to the age of Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal, and Jamie Oliver. The first trade book to tell the story of British cooking--which is, of course, the history that led up to American colonial cooking as well--Taste shows that kitchens are not only places of steam, oil, and sweat, but of politics, invention, cultural exchange, commerce, conflict, and play.

About the Author

Kate Colquhoun is a journalist and the author of The Busiest Man in England: A Life of Joseph Paxton, Gardener, Architect, & Victorian Visionary. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Praise For Taste

“[A]n invaluable work of social history and one of the more fascinating kitchen-related books to cross the Atlantic since the Oxford Companion to Food...one interesting fact or minihistory after another. [Colquhoun's] supple BBC-Four-meets-Julia-Child voice is just one of the book's pleasures...This is a triumph to savor.”  —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Refreshingly free of jokes about British cooking, her text uses cookery through the ages to explain everything from the British Isles’ waves of invaders and immigrants to class conflict and consciousness, patriotism and terror during World War II rationing…[a] fascinating history of an empire…Colquhoun can reach passionate heights...A thoughtful and detailed book to be savored—but not on an empty stomach.”   —Kirkus Reviews

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