Edible History of Humanity: Reading Food Anthropology


This book is brilliant and I wished I’d read it before I taught the Food & Culture anthropology module at Macao’s IFT. It’s an easy short read all about edible history that takes you through trade routes, wars and the evolution of food to industrial farming, Mao’s failed Great Leap Forward campaign and the effects it had on farming and agriculture, along with battles won/lost because the army wasn’t fed well.

Lots of interesting nuggets about the world’s largest seed bank in Norway with millions of original seeds, sadly seeds that were thousands of years old that were stored in Iraq’s seed bank was completely destroyed. And who knew the dish “Parmentier” was named after this scientist who championed potatoes and made it main stream and luxurious to serve at the dinner table.

It was also a French scientist that developed ways of food preservation (through canning and sterilisation) so that the army could ration food through cold and long winters of war – lessons learnt from Napoleon’s defeat in the Russian war.

If food, history and anthropology is your thing, you will definitely enjoy An Edible History of Humanity.

(Thai ice milk tea from Teakha, but so good and wonderful for the sultry Hong Kong summers)

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