Food Reading: Curious History of Food and Drink By Ian Croftan


Ian Croftan’s Curious History of Food & Drink is really fun reading – everything from the French word restaurant derived from the latin word for restore since the 15th century. It’s the sort of book you’d revisit again and again.

The book provides a fascinating look at the origins as well as the evolution of food and drinks that are a part of our culture and cuisine today. Tracing the development of staples like wheat, rice, potatoes and sugar cane, and the domestication of animals (moving on from the original hunter and gatherer model), it explores the evolution of key food sources and how it has shaped modern civilisations and the various cuisines around the world.

History Of Food And Drink

I teach an anthropology course to final year students at IFT the hospitality school in Macao and this book is a real gem full of anecdotal stories, more so than hard history facts which gives leeway for making your own conclusions to certain things.

A key part of food history include preservation techniques, spices and seasonings, as well as the fermentation of food and drinks : giving rise to beer, wine and cheese, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables. There are chapters on ancient recipes and culinary traditions as well as the cross-pollination of ingredients and cooking methods.

Food History Trivia

Or ever wondered where the word foie for liver in French originated from? Well the book tells the anecdotal tale of Apicius a gourmet who discovered over feeding geese to enlarge their livers (a practice known in Egypt as early as 2300BC). He employed the same method with pigs, cramming them with dried figs until they were fat enough. The French word “foie” is derived from the latin word for figs – ficatum.

It’s a light read with lots of short, interesting nuggets. Definitely recommend it if you’re interested in little food and drink trivia. It’s definitely reading for any food history enthusiast. You will thoroughly enjoy it.

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