Why Food Matters
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This concise, incisive book is passionate argument for considering food as a subject of thoughtful inquiry, including but not only, in scholarship.
Author Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University, is the author of a number of significant works of food history, including American Cuisine, and How it Got This Way and Ten Restaurants That Changed America.
In his wide-ranging academic studies, he has regularly come up against the importance of food in determining the course of history:
"While studying the social imagery of peasants in the period 1000 to 1500, I noticed how often the upper classes mocked rustic food habits... Aristocratic tastes in the Middle Ages were oriented toward game, large fish such as sturgeon, and exotic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg... an example of class determining culinary taste and the power of seemingly frivolous preferences to launch vast historical enterprises, in this case the fifteen-century demand for spices that resulted in the European colonization of much of the world."
The scope of import is, of course, much larger, as Freedman makes clear.