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A Cultural History of Food

6 Volumes

      From Archaic Greece until the Late Roman Empire (c. 800 BCE to c. 500 CE), food was more than a physical necessity; it was a critical factor in politics, economics and culture. On the one hand, the Mediterranean landscape and climate encouraged particular crops – notably cereals, vines and olives – but, with the risks of crop failure ever-present, control of food resources was vital to economic and political power. On the other hand, diet and dining reflected complex social hierarchies and relationships. What was eaten, with whom and when was a fundamental part of the expression of one’s role and place in society. In addition, symbolism and ritual suffused foodstuffs, their preparation and consumption.

      A Cultural History of Food in Antiquity presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.

      Europe was formed in the Middle Ages. The merging of the traditions of Roman-Mediterranean societies with the customs of Northern Europe created new political, economic, social and religious structures and practices. Between 500 and 1300 CE, food in all its manifestations, from agriculture to symbol, became ever more complex and integral to Europe’s culture and economy. The period saw the growth of culinary literature, the introduction of new spices and cuisines as a result of trade and war, the impact of the Black Death on food resources, the widening gap between what was eaten by the rich and what by the poor, as well as the influence of religion on food rituals.

      A Cultural History of Food in the Medieval Age presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.

      Food and attitudes toward it were transformed in Renaissance Europe. The period between 1300 and 1600 saw the discovery of the New World and the cultivation of new foodstuffs, as well as the efflorescence of culinary literature in European courts and eventually in the popular press, and most importantly the transformation of the economy on a global scale. Food became the object of rigorous investigation among physicians, theologians, agronomists and even poets and artists. Concern with eating was, in fact, central to the cultural dynamism we now recognize as the Renaissance.

      A Cultural History of Food in the Renaissance presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.

      The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries form a very distinctive period in European food history. This was a time when enduring feudal constraints in some areas contrasted with widening geographical horizons and the emergence of a consumer society.While cereal based diets and small scale trade continued to be the mainstay of the general population, elite tastes shifted from Renaissance opulence toward the greater simplicity and elegance of dining à la franàaise. At the same time, growing spatial mobility and urbanization boosted the demand for professional cooking and commercial catering. An unprecedented wealth of artistic, literary and medical discourses on food and drink allows fascinating insights into contemporary responses to these transformations.

      A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.

      The nineteenth-century West saw extraordinary economic growth and cultural change. This volume explores and explains the birth of the modern world through the food it produced and consumed. Food security vastly improved though malnutrition and famines persisted. Scientific research radically altered the ways in which food and its relation to the body were conceived: efficiency became the watchword, norms the measure, and standardized goods the rule. At the same time, the art of food became a luxury pursuit as interest in gastronomy soared.

      A Cultural History of Food in the Age of Empire presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.

      In the modern age (1920-2000), vast technological innovation spurred greater concentration, standardization, and globalization of the food supply. As advances in agricultural production in the post-World War II era propelled population growth, a significant portion of the population gained access to cheap, industrially produced food while significant numbers remained mired in hunger and malnutrition. Further, as globalization allowed unprecedented access to foods from all parts of the globe, it also hastened environmental degradation, contributed to poor health, and remained a key element in global politics, economics and culture.

      A Cultural History of Food in the Modern Age presents an overview of the period with essays on food production, food systems, food security, safety and crises, food and politics, eating out, professional cooking, kitchens and service work, family and domesticity, body and soul, representations of food, and developments in food production and consumption globally.