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The best food history books

by Julia Pal

published on 8 November 2013

Where does our cooking come from? Each of the works in this wonderful collection of food history books allows the reader to step out of the world of modern cookery and consider its roots and influences from past centuries. Each takes a different approach, but all shine with the knowledge and passion of their authors.

Great British Bakes by Mary-Anne Boermans

Former Great British Bake Off contestant Mary-Anne Boermans’ long-held passion for the baking of times past comes through in every page of this wonderful new book. The product of years of meticulous research, it re-introduces a modern audience to long-forgotten British treasures, reaching as far back as the 17th century. Each recipe has been brought up to date to suit contemporary cooking techniques and equipment, and each is accompanied by a fascinating slice of historical information.

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell

This wonderful history of cuisine comes from William Sitwell, one of the country’s foremost food writers. It explores the origins of the recipes, techniques and equipment that we all take for granted. Sitwell is enthusiastic and knowledgeable and his prose brings the history and characters of each of his 100 recipes to life. A book to be read and enjoyed as much as to be cooked from.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

Bee Wilson is the much-loved author of the Sunday Telegraph’s The Kitchen Thinker column. In this charming book, she turns her attention to commonly used kitchen implements and explores how these have shaped the way we cook. From huge Tudor open fires to sous-vide machines, the birth of the fork to Roman gadgets,Consider the Fork is the previously unsung history of our kitchens.

The Campaign for Domestic Happiness by Isabella Beeton

Penguin’s Great Food series is a celebration of the most exciting food writing from the past 400 years, gathering together works from renowned authors including Elizabeth David and MFK Fisher as well as lesser known experts from centuries past. Mrs Beeton’s The Campaign for Domestic Happiness is one of the stars of this collection, providing a wonderful slice of 19th century social history and timeless tips on everything from choosing cuts of meat to throwing the perfect dinner party.

Dinner with Mr Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen by Pen Vogler

This delightful collection of recipes is a perfect read for Jane Austen fans and lovers of Georgian history alike. With recreations of many of the menus from the author’s novels, as well as a selection of recipes known to have been enjoyed by Austen herself, it is a charming exploration of a previously ignored aspect of the work of one of Britain’s best-loved writers.

Is your favourite food history book missing from our collection? Let us know what you would have included by following @thehappyfoodie on Twitter and tweeting us your thoughts.

@liessabai on Twitter suggests Simmering Through the Ages by Professor Roland Rotherham and Simon Smith as her favourite to add to the list.


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