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In this U.S. version of British food writer Sitwell's trek through culinary space and time, dishes like fish and chips and toad in the hole are still of major import, adding quirky charm to this entertaining and well-researched compendium. From recipes based on Egyptian tomb wall paintings and the Bible up to those of Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, the author's timeline covers such foodie milestones as the first written reference to pasta, the first pie, the advent of the fork, a 17th-century meditation on salad dressing, and the realization that the Earl of Sandwich was more a discoverer than an inventor. Along the way, meals and the presentation of recipes grow ever more sophisticated. There's a palatable change in specificity between a 1660s recipe for pea soup calling for "about two quarts of peas... and a little slice of bacon" and a 1900s Scotch barley broth calling for one-and-a-quarter pounds of beef and five ounces of barley. In an intriguing chapter focusing on a butter crawfish recipe written circa 1604 by a Lady Elinore Fettiplace, Sitwell points out how, in her recipe collection, she "separates the sweet from the savory, moving away from the medieval habit of laying everything on the table at once. " With such instances of cultural insight, Sitwell elevates this collection from curious cookbook to a serious study. Agent: Caroline Michel, PFD. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Here food writer and BBC personality Sitwell manages to trace culinary history from ancient Egypt to Heston Blumenthal's 2011 "meat fruit" in 100 steps. First published in the UK last year (and thus somewhat British in focus), this volume presents a series of informative, often playful, and nearly always opinionated essays, each focusing on a particular recipe or dish chosen to illustrate an important shift or trend in food or cooking. Entries include a recipe for salad dressing from 1699, the Anglo-Indian dish kedgeree (1845), and Rice Krispies Treats (1941). Some recipes are detailed enough to cook from; others-particularly the older ones-are more basic sketches. But high-brow or low-brow, basic or gourmet, the 100 points of focus Stillwell brings before the reader are widely sourced from various cultural traditions and together constitute an enjoyably meandering and thought-provoking journey through the role of cooking in daily life. Verdict More a good read than a recipe book (though both in a pinch), this title ought to interest foodies, especially Anglophiles.-Courtney Greene, Indiana Univ. Lib., Bloomington (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.