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Food History and Scholarship Books

Read More about the Food History and Scholarship Collection

Our collection of food history and scholarship books is a haven for scholars, researchers, and food enthusiasts who are passionate about exploring food's cultural and social significance. The works here offer a comprehensive look at the history of food and its impact on society from ancient times to the present day.

The books we stock cover a wide range of topics, including the history of specific ingredients, the evolution of culinary techniques and traditions, and the role of food in politics, economics, and culture.

What is food history?

Food history, culinary anthropology, and sociological studies of how people make and eat food—these serious investigations of human culture are crucial to the mission of our store. We respect the curiosity of food historians and others who ask questions about why people eat what they eat and want to encourage more questions.

Who writes food history books?

Food historians, scholars from other fields such as sociology and journalists explore the cultural, social, and economic influences that have shaped how people cook and eat. They research and document the evolution of food and culinary traditions, tracing the origins of specific dishes, ingredients, and cooking methods.

The authors examine how food has been produced, prepared, and consumed throughout history and the social, cultural, and political contexts in which these practices have taken place. This may involve researching ancient texts, analyzing recipes, studying agricultural and trade records, and exploring archaeological findings.

Food historians also investigate the impact of food on society, including issues related to health, nutrition, and food safety. They may work in a variety of settings, including universities, museums, and cultural organizations, and their research can inform the work of chefs, food writers, and other culinary professionals. Overall, food historians play an essential role in preserving and promoting our food heritage and in understanding the role of food in shaping human history and culture.

Books on food and culture

A great food history book can examine a very narrow subject in detail or sweep across centuries of human experience. Books about food history can be devoted to a single ingredient, such as Mark Kurlansky’s book Milk! A 10,000-Year Food Fracas. Or they might ask questions about food in the context of human politics, such as Rachel Laudan’s Cuisine & Empire.

Some people are surprised to learn there are such things as the history of food books. Others hope there will be serious books on whatever might interest them, from the history of toast to the invention of salad.

Food scholarship is a growing field

But food history is a relatively new area of serious scholarship, and many pioneering food historians of the mid-twentieth century had to fight against the prejudice that food was not a proper subject for research. Thankfully, that idea no longer prevails. But it does mean there are still many books about food history that have not been written yet.

Food history magazines

In this category, we also include some interesting magazines devoted to culinary scholarship. Many of them include articles that are the germs of future books on the history of food.

Which food history books should you choose?

The answer to this question is that it depends on what information you are looking for. Finding the perfect food history book might seem overwhelming, but that’s where we can help.

At Kitchen Arts & Letters, we personally read and review every book ourselves, and the descriptions you read on our website are our thoughts on what the book delivers—not just what you might read on the back of the book or in marketing fodder. We look at what makes a book a great choice and who would benefit from reading it. We question whether it stands out in any particular way or falls short in any area. We understand that not every book will be the perfect fit for everyone, but we aim to find the book that best suits your needs.

So, if you are looking for something specific but don’t know where to start, feel free to send us an email, and we will help you. If we can’t find the exact food history or food scholarship book you are looking for, we may be able to track it down for you.

Looking for books on the chemistry and physics of what happens in the kitchen? Browse our collection of Food Science books.

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