Summer 2023 Reading List: food history

Last summer I set for myself a reading list of recent work on Roman history, which blended books I came across in book lists, reviews, etc, with crowd-source suggestions. My summer ended up being much busier than I had anticipated, but the list still proved a valuable resource over the past few months and I have a continued to refer to it.

With this in mind, I am starting to put together my reading slate for Summer 2023. This year I want to do a broad survey of food history, with 8–10 books that encompass a range of different approaches to the topic. I have been reading in this area out of interest for the past few years, so there are a number of “obvious” books that I have excluded for no other reason than that I have already read them. The difference this time is that I am looking to be somewhat more systematic in my approach.

This is the list I have come up with so far:

  1. Leonard Barkan, The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and European Culture from Rome to the Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021).
  2. Hasia R. Diner, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003).
  3. Robert William Fogel, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700–2100: Europe, America and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  4. Sally Grainger, The Story of Garum: Fermented Fish Sauce and Salted Fish in the Ancient World (New York: Routledge, 2020).
  5. Rachel Laudan, Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).
  6. Rachel Louise Martin, Hot, Hot Chicken: A Nashville Story (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2021).
  7. Patrick E. McGovern, Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).
  8. Massimo Montanari, Food is Culture, trans. Albert Sonnenfeld (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).
  9. Jean-Pierre Poulain, The Sociology of Food: Eating and the Place of Food in Society (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).
  10. Adam D. Shprintzen, The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817–1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Also considered:

  • Ken Albaba, Eating Right in the Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
  • Laura M. Banducci, Foodways in Roman Republican Italy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021).
  • Brian Fagan, Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and the Discovery of the New World (New York: Basic Books, 2006).
  • Felipe Fernández-Amersto, New a Thousand Tables: A History of Food (New York: The Free Press, 2002).
  • Paul Freedman, Food: The History of Taste (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).
  • James C. McCann, Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine (Athens, Oh: Ohio University Press, 2009).
  • Patrick E. McGovern, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).
  • Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Penguin, 1986).
  • Jeffrey M. Pilcher, Que vivan los tamales!: Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998).
  • Roy Strong, Feast: A History of Grand Eating (New York: Harcourt, 2003).
  • Caroline Walker-Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).

Food history is obviously an enormous topic and I am stretching myself beyond ancient history for this particular reading list, so I am particularly keen to hear recommendations with a particular focus on recent volumes or if there is a methodological approach I am sorely neglecting.