Tasting History: Explore the Past through 4,000 Years of Recipes
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For a limited time we have books signed by Max Miller.
Tasting History with Max Miller is a popular and engaging YouTube channel which takes its explorations of food history seriously. The same is true of this, Max Miller's first book.
Miller, a former marketing executive, is an appealing presenter who uses his recreation of historically significant dishes to weave in discussions of what we know about who was making the food, what they were cooking with, and—just as important—how we know it.
Rather than speak or write with unwarranted certainty, when necessary Miller will explain the basis for conjecture about what kinds of ingredients were available where, along with how those foods, from wine to vegetables, may have changed in intervening centuries.
Miller’s range of sources are historical and literary, citing everything:
- Images on the wall of the tomb of a court official during the the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt
- Scappi’s Opera dell’aere del cucinare
- Texts from the Mughal courts
- A seventeenth century Korean cookbook which happens to be one of the first known to have been written by a woman
It’s an impressive grasp, expressed in geographically and chronologically arranged chapters. Motivated readers could find themselves making:
- Melas Zomas (the black broth of Spartan soldiers)
- Apple tart from 16th-century Germany
- Yuanxiao, a walnut-stuffed glutinous rice ball from Ming China
- Quesadillas Cernidas from an anonymous 1831 cookbook published in Mexico
Most of Miller’s recipes begin with a single historical source recipe, while a few are built up from period descriptions. Each of them is well sited within a historical context which helps explain why the food, and often the recipe source is culturally important.
Miller does a strong job of making thoughtful investigation seem both appealing and worthwhile, an important message for people making their first encounter with food scholarship.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.