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Siegel, Matt

The Secret History of Food: Strange But True Stories about the Origins of Everything We Eat

The Secret History of Food: Strange But True Stories about the Origins of Everything We Eat

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From the publisher

Is Italian olive oil really Italian, or are we dipping our bread in lamp oil? Why are we masochistically drawn to foods that can hurt us, like hot peppers? Far from being a classic American dish, is apple pie actually . . . English?

"As a species, we're hardwired to obsess over food," Matt Siegel explains as he sets out "to uncover the hidden side of everything we put in our mouths." Siegel also probes subjects ranging from the myths--and realities--of food as aphrodisiac, to how one of the rarest and most exotic spices in all the world (vanilla) became a synonym for uninspired sexual proclivities, to the role of food in fairy- and morality tales. He even makes a well-argued case for how ice cream helped defeat the Nazis.

The Secret History of Food is a rich and satisfying exploration of the historical, cultural, scientific, sexual, and, yes, culinary subcultures of this most essential realm. Siegel is an armchair Anthony Bourdain, armed not with a chef's knife but with knowledge derived from medieval food-related manuscripts, ancient Chinese scrolls, and obscure culinary journals. Funny and fascinating, The Secret History of Food is essential reading for all foodies.

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From Chef Scott

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"The Secret History of Food" is a fascinating and insightful exploration into the often surprising and quirky histories behind the foods we consume every day. This book is more than a mere culinary exploration; it's a captivating journey through history, culture, science, and mythology, offering readers a profound understanding of our relationship with food.

The author delves into the origins and evolution of various food items, unraveling the complex and sometimes bizarre tales behind them. Each chapter is a revelation, filled with intriguing anecdotes, historical facts, and unexpected connections. The narrative is engaging and richly detailed, making the book as informative as it is entertaining.

One of the most impressive aspects of "The Secret History of Food" is the breadth of its content. The book covers a wide array of foods, from commonplace fruits and vegetables to exotic spices and delicacies. The author skillfully blends historical research with culinary science and cultural anthropology, creating a tapestry of stories that is both diverse and deeply researched.

The writing style is accessible and witty, with a keen eye for amusing and peculiar details. This approach makes the book a delight to read, as it educates and amuses in equal measure. The author has a gift for storytelling, transforming what could be mundane food facts into compelling tales of discovery, innovation, and sometimes pure chance.

Visually, the book is well-presented, with a clean and engaging layout. While it may not rely heavily on illustrations, the vivid descriptions and storytelling paint a rich picture in the reader's mind, bringing the history of food to life.

"The Secret History of Food" also delves into the cultural and social implications of food throughout history, providing insights into how our eating habits and culinary preferences have been shaped by various factors. This broader perspective adds a layer of depth to the book, elevating it from a collection of food stories to a thoughtful examination of humanity's relationship with food.

In conclusion, "The Secret History of Food: Strange But True Stories about the Origins of Everything We Eat" is a delightful and enlightening read for anyone interested in food, history, or the curious intersections between them. It offers a unique perspective on the foods we often take for granted, revealing the rich and sometimes strange stories behind our daily meals. Whether you are a food enthusiast, a history buff, or simply enjoy a good story, this book is a fascinating and enjoyable journey through the secret history of what we eat.