Food history, culinary anthropology, 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.
A great food history book can examine a very narrow subject in detail, or it can 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 that there are such things as history of food books. Others hope that there will be serious books on whatever it is that might interest them, from the history of toast to the invention of salad.
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 that there are still many books about food history that have not been written yet.
In this category we also include some interesting magazines that are devoted to culinary scholarship, and many of them include articles that are the germs of future books on the history of food.