By virtually any standard, Chocolate is an imposing volume. Contained in its 975 encyclopedia-sized pages are 56 chapters about chocolate written by scores of scholars ranging from anthropologists, archaeologists, and archivists to food and plant scientists, tropical agroforestry experts, and hieroglyphicists. In addition to the scholarly articles, the book contains 11 appendixes, which include, among other helpful items, a 20-page chocolate lexicon, quotations about or including chocolate by 99 notable figures, and an impressive 75-page chocolate time line. The book was compiled by members of the Chocolate History Group based at the University of California at Davis and formed and funded by Mars Inc., the candy giant. Chronologically, the articles range from pre-Columbian times through the 20th century and connect chocolate to such fields as religion, medicine, advertising, economics, agriculture, cultural studies, food studies, botany, and geography. Food studies scholars will appreciate the final chapter, which lays out promising areas for future research. The content of this book is deep, rich, sometimes dark, and emphatically not to be digested in a single sitting; rather, it needs to be slowly savored over time in small servings. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
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Based upon her premise that in 2050, "all our environmental debts [will] come knocking at our door," author/journalist Elton (Locavore, 2010) offers a forward-thinking exploration into the advantages of sustainable farming systems. The book is divided into three main sections and a conclusion, referred to as "target goals," which convey an ambitious plan to alter the current agricultural outlook. Each target goal is designated a decade--"Target 2020: Soil," "Target 2030: Seeds," "Target 2040: Culture," and "Conclusion: Target 2050"--thus creating a content structure that is both novel and approachable for readers. Meticulously researched and carefully written, the book weaves personal interviews conducted across the globe with scientific research to develop a compellingly intimate justification for sustainable food. Remarkably, the tone of the book remains positive, given the myriad challenges of water scarcity, global warming, and more facing future food production. Overall, while the reader may desire additional scientific justification for the dates selected as agricultural tipping points, thorough research, paired with a strong plan for action, make for an enlightening and worthy read. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All undergraduate students and general readers.
Written by medical and nutrition experts, this comprehensive book is based on the premise that "nutrition knowledge ... is the most important thing you can do to preserve and improve your mind and body." Divided into two sections ("Guide to Healthy Nutrition" and "Encyclopedia of Foods"), it has an appealing layout, colored diagrams, and wonderful photographs that make the information readable and interesting. Dietary guidelines and nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats) are discussed. The food/health connection is stressed: proper diet can prevent and treat heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. Meal planning and preparation are made interesting and relevant. There are helpful hints about meals and cooking for readers who need or want to change their relationship with food. People who eat unhealthily (fast foods or otherwise) will be able to change unhealthy cooking and eating habits. The index is short and lacks some important headings: nothing under "vegetarian"; only two listings under "children"; nothing under "plant," which could make readers miss information about meat substitutes. The appendix includes a reading list and Web sites and excellent charts of dietary reference intakes (formerly minimum daily requirements), nutrients in foods, and information about vitamins and minerals. A bargain, highly recommended for all libraries.
Taking for its subject the entire history of kitchens and anything that might have happened in them, this encyclopedia contains 300 entries on topics as diverse as cannibalism and brooms. Entries range in length from a few paragraphs to several pages, and each has a brief list of further readings. The volume has a general bibliography and a detailed index. The book is fascinating to browse. Curious about coffee filters? They were invented by Melitta Bentz of Dresden, Germany, who first marketed them from her kitchen. The book's usefulness as a reference source, however, seems limited. Although it covers subjects difficult to find elsewhere (e.g., logging camp kitchens), the range of topics is highly selective and arbitrary. Why an entry on bananas and not apples, or military kitchens but not farm kitchens? Snodgrass does not reveal why particular topics were chosen. A narrower focus covered more exhaustively might have been more useful, and the price is excessive. Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate libraries.
The objective of this edited book is to explore the many dimensions of food insecurity by focusing on its symptoms, causes, and solutions. To this end, the 14 chapters provide interdisciplinary viewpoints that collectively highlight the following ideas: the problem of food insecurity has complex causes, meaningful solutions are interdisciplinary, and to address this problem effectively, nations will need to work collectively and recognize the zero-sum nature of many national food policies. These ideas are developed in thoughtful ways in some of the individual chapters. For instance, readers learn that if the objective of a policy maker is to get agriculture moving, then the apposite sequencing of centralized policies is often more important than integrated rural development projects. Second, poorly diversified diets that are deficient in micronutrients can have profound negative impacts on children's health and education. Finally, the change in global food consumption patterns that is least likely to promote food security is the rising demand for non-staple food products. There is some variance in the quality of the individual chapters. Even so, this book provides a lucid perspective on how to attenuate the worldwide food insecurity problem. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above.
This brief book illustrates how social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp, among other sites) have strongly influenced food culture. Rousseau (Univ. of Cape Town, South Africa; Food Media, 2012) invites readers to participate in a multilayered discussion of a wide range of issues related to the topic. These include plagiarism and copyright/fair use issues, restaurant reviews and the ethics of reviewing food establishments, marketing ethics, research strategies to locate authoritative recipes, and health information. This discourse is an entertaining, accessible analysis of an ordinary occurrence: sharing food with others through cyberspace. It is an incredibly engaging, fast read for such a dense, well-researched text. Foodies and academics in many disciplines will appreciate this book; it is also suitable for general readers, students, and anyone in the restaurant/hospitality industries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of students, general readers, researchers/faculty, and professionals.
Food ethics, which melded with modern agricultural ethics, is not a new societal concern. The topic dates back to the writings of Hippocrates, Homer, and Plato on dietetics. Here, Sandler (philosophy, Northeastern Univ.) provides an overview of a broad spectrum of food ethics issues, beginning with a brief introduction about the need to understand the topic. A synopsis of the current global food system and a discussion of the alternative food movement focusing on locally produced foods follow. Later chapters address food security, consumption of animals, bioengineered foods, health and food, and cultural aspects. The book provides a balanced perspective for each contemporary issue as well as arguments supporting and opposing debatable benefits and risks of food production and consumption issues. The philosophical perspectives are clearly written, the technical details are jargon free, and the science is accurate. Each of the six chapters ends with a list of readings that are primarily other books with various perspectives on the topic. A ten-page bibliography with current original sources supports the text. A useful resource for public policy and agricultural libraries. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.
Food faddists have influenced policies and directed public opinion regarding agricultural and nutritional issues such as farm subsidies, organic versus inorganic farming, pesticides and herbicides, dietary controls for health, and other food-related issues. Food economist Lusk (Oklahoma State Univ.) serves as the gadfly who, in this provocative publication, dissects and contests the common liberal convictions that revere organic foods as the healthiest, shun genetically modified foods, blast fast food eateries, and encourage taxing certain foods to abate the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. With hyperactive fervor, cutting wit, anecdotal detail, and well-researched data, the author incisively counters the popular teachings of Michael Pollan and Alice Waters and insists that readers reexamine the controversies surrounding the prevalently popular food issues. Food is presently plentiful due to technology; large agribusinesses provide the required crops at affordable prices; organic foods, while more costly, are not necessarily tastier or freer of chemical contamination; without the use of pesticides and/or herbicides, food shortages might prevail; and bans on food advertisements and taxes to discourage consuming certain products ignore personal responsibility in consumer matters. The Food Police opens many windows, giving readers further insights into this volatile topic. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
The authors, both employed by UBS Bank as economists and sustainability experts, have written an engaging and surprisingly interesting new work examining the environmental impact of world food policies and changing production methods. Although the book is written from a British perspective, it is a valuable addition to the literature on this topic for readers on either side of the Atlantic. The authors examine the food chain in its entirety, looking at it as economists while focusing on historical and environmental factors. They begin with the farmer and raw ingredients, and from there follow it through to discuss food processing, transportation, wholesaling and retailing, consumption, and food wastage. Well researched, with footnotes, tables, and graphs to further illustrate points, this book is the rare academic title that is also relevant and well written enough to be enjoyed by general readers interested in the subject. Since everyone eats, it is a topic that should (and will) resonate with many, particularly those concerned with the ever-increasing economic and environmental burdens of feeding the world's growing population. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.
Nestle's well-researched book raises important points and delineates nutritional problems. However, Nestle tries but fails to present both sides of an issue equitably. Her most balanced portrayal concerns the dietary supplement issue. The look at political forces shaping important nutritional canon, e.g., the Food Guide Pyramid, is thought-provoking. Nestle (New York Univ.) offers a number of important suggestions to improve health by reducing portion size and overcoming exercise impediments. However, many solutions will not be practical, such as choosing only locally grown produce--a great suggestion for Florida, but it could result in scurvy in winter in the Dakotas. She proposes that educational materials have no industry logos and that there be no industry funded research. Fine in Utopia, but translated this means significantly less research and virtually no company-produced educational materials. Her accusations--that ties between nutrition scientists and organizations with industry foster a covert bias--in this reviewer's view is her "blind side." She wants the food industry to change, yet her anti-industry bias prevents her from acknowledging that industry alliances with those with knowledge is part of the answer. Thus, she outlines the problems but must do more to produce viable solutions for a healthier nation. Summing Up: Optional. All levels. This review refers to an earlier edition.
Freedman (history, Yale Univ.) has assembled a lavishly illustrated hybrid reader and coffee-table book that provides a consumption-oriented food history, focusing on the aesthetics as opposed to the physiology of taste. The contributor roster spans Europe and the US and includes archaeologists and classicists as well as historians, nearly all preeminent scholars of both food and the period. The ten chapters, whirling from early humankind through classical, medieval, Renaissance, industrial, and modern eras to the 21st century, are well edited and surprisingly accessible and entertaining, considering the august group of contributors. The art is thoughtfully selected, enhancing the written text, and the captions are informative. The easy criticism of the book--its predominantly Western focus--is tempered by essays on China and the Arab world and nods to non-Western history elsewhere. The book's accessibility and visual appeal are not without their price: while further readings are suggested, scholars will be frustrated by the lack of footnotes, which relegates the book to the armchair rather than the research desk. This book compares well with Food: A Culinary History (1999), ed. by Jean-Louis Flandrin, Massimo Montanari, and Albert Sonnenfeld. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, all levels of students, and practitioners.
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Brown (president, Earth Policy Institute) highlights the major challenges in feeding an ever-growing world population. The author explains the environmental constraints imposed on food production across different regions of the world, and he eloquently lays out each issue in 11 succinct chapters. Brown paints an ominous picture as to why society is on a path to impending doom and supports his arguments with statistical facts and reasoned argument. The book is an important, thought-provoking treatise on why we--the human race--need to realize what we are doing to our planet's finite resources and how our actions will impact the basic food security of the world's poor and hungry. Brown perhaps at times overplays his negative message. Nevertheless the issues that he raises are important for people to be made aware of, and hopefully this book will encourage readers to conduct further research and enhance their understanding of the subject matter. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of students, researchers/faculty, professionals, and general readers.
This clearly written book by Brady (Cornell Univ.) is an excellent compendium of the many compounds and their complex chemical and biochemical reactions--whose details are frequently not completely known--that are important to food preparation. It is a compilation of the author's teaching materials for a one-semester course, and its organization means it can be used as a textbook or serve as an ideal reference handbook. The thorough presentation leaves almost no stone unturned, but some minor editing is suggested for later editions. For example, when describing the plant carbohydrate components amylose and amylopectin, there is no clear explanation of how their ratio contributes to the final properties of cooked dishes, e.g., rice dishes ranging from creamy risotto to "sticky" rice. Also, protein crystal structure images are interspersed to illustrate relevant topics, and although some figure captions have short explanations, most do not. So while these beautiful images connect current research to food topics and could stimulate readers by providing a structural perspective, they are complex and appear to be a tangled mess (even to a crystallographer). Perhaps a beginner's guide to interpreting protein structure drawings in the appendix would be useful. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; two-year technical program students.
This book is one in a series on "Food Cultures in America," which intends to show how different ethnic and regional food cultures have become part of American identity. As the authors explain in their introduction, the Jewish contribution to food culture in the US is complicated because of the Diaspora background of US Jews from Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Another nuance is the intersection of religion and national ancestry in the food choices made, including dietary rules called kashrut. Neither cookbook nor analytical work, this volume resembles a primer of traditional foods and practices as they have been experienced in the US. It has a place on library shelves because of its national focus; other texts provide fuller global social histories or regional surveys. The task of interpreting meaning from food-related behavior in the varieties of Jewish American communities remains to be done. More valuable for students looking for a general overview than for researchers. Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate collections.
This excellent "fusion" of science and food and cooking is an anthology of 33 essays, written by 53 individuals. The editors are food scientists, and the other contributors are scientists, chefs, or both. Science has increasingly influenced cooking from nouvelle cuisine through molecular gastronomy to "new gastronomy." Notable chapters include the first, on grilled cheese sandwiches, focusing on the melting properties of cheeses with implications for fondue. The second chapter examines the gastronomic effects of sound via the crispness of french fries, potato chips, and fowl. Other chapters discuss moussaka, chocolate chip cookies, meringues, egg yolks, ice creams and sorbets, soups and sauces, ketchup, and coffee flavor. The legendary Hervé This (Building a Meal, CH, Sep'09, 47-0234) recaps molecular gastronomy. Contributors also discuss how to speed up the Maillard (browning) reaction with baking soda and how to improve classic pizza crusts. The book addresses the pleasure of eating in general and the controversies surrounding food science, processed foods, and "nutritionism" along with predictions of trends in cooking and food science. Details on chemistry, physics, and other aspects of food science pervade the book. A valuable resource for courses in food science and popular versions of chemistry and physics courses. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
Author This (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Paris), physical chemist, gastronome, and French television personality, demystifies the kitchen and brings a unique perspective to the art and science of cooking in Kitchen Mysteries, which is part of the "Perspectives on Culinary History" series. This work is a follow-up to his Molecular Gastronomy (CH, Jun'06, 43-5856), which, although controversial among chefs, is widely imitated. While the previous volume debunked or verified several culinary myths, this one provides advice to both the novice and experienced cook on how to read between the lines in a recipe, what to do and how to do it, and why it is done that way. However, This also encourages creativity and offers information on how to modify recipes using ingredients at hand. As he weaves the basic chemistry and science of cooking into the narrative, the author examines the various methods of cooking in detail, describes appropriate (and inappropriate) use of the microwave, and presents a novel approach on the sense of taste. Kitchen Mysteries is another tour de force for the French scientific chef, valuable to cooks of all stripes and to students or teachers in food science, culinary arts, and chemistry. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers/libraries. This review refers to an earlier edition.
This third edition comes 15 years after the first was published (CH, May'00, 37-4812). Both it and the second edition (2006) were compiled after Davidson's death. Due to the extent that each of these subsequent editions have strived to remain true to the original, there have been few substantive changes. An obvious cosmetic change is color. The second edition was done in a green theme (highlighting, etc.), the latest edition in orange. There also appear to be many more cross-references. Besides making the work that much more accessible to readers, this obviates the cross-reference index in the previous two editions. The original book was incredibly comprehensive (as evidenced by its 892 pages and the 20 years it took to produce). Writer/publisher Jaine added 72 new entries to the second edition and 43 more to the third. Further, Jaine states that he updated 250 of the original entries. In a book of this size, however, that indicates the vast majority remain the same. This makes it a valuable purchase for libraries or individuals that do not own the previous versions, but not an essential one for other audiences. Overall, the differences seem relatively slight. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Libraries that do not own earlier editions; all levels.
Outstanding Academic Title
How did mock apple pie originate? What's the difference between a frappe and a milkshake? Who introduced the first frozen TV dinner? Answers to queries such as these can be found in this highly entertaining set, which follows the footsteps of other highly regarded Oxford reference sources (Alan Davidson's The Oxford Companion to Food, CH May'00, 37-4812; The Oxford Companion to Wine, ed. by Jancis Robinson, CH Apr'95, 32-4248a). The preface states that the objective is "to make a major contribution by bringing together in one authoritative reference work the best scholarship on the history of American Food." Nearly 200 scholars offer 770 entries that cover topics from African American food to zombies (a cocktail). Entries, in alphabetical order, range in length from a paragraph ("Moxie") to several pages ("Ethnic Foods"). Entries consider food from different time periods, specific food or drink, contributions from ethnic groups, and contributors to the field of food and drink. Entries include see also references and bibliographies and feature numerous photographs, sidebars, and old advertisements. Volume 1 supplies an alphabetical list of all the articles and a list of abbreviations. Volume 2 has several useful appendixes: a topical food bibliography, a list of food periodicals, a drink bibliography, and lists of Web sites, American library culinary collections, and food-related museums, organizations, and festivals. The work includes a topical index of entries, a roster of contributors, and an alphabetical index. Summing Up: Essential. All food collections; highly recommended for all libraries. This review refers to an earlier edition.
Slicing into this meaty book, part of the "California Studies in Food and Culture" series, provided a rich and challenging experience for someone who does not know epistemology from ontology. An emerging area of thought, the philosophy of food contains a feast of ideas and deserves substantially more room at the table. By nature an interdisciplinary set of inquiries, philosophy of food addresses questions that are at once central to the human experience and wide-ranging in their implications. The aesthetics of taste and aroma, the ethics of food production, food safety, hunger, and gourmandism all provide the ingredients for this flavorful, substantial, and rich yet balanced volume. The lively, well-written introductory chapter sets the table, as it were, for a series of 16 essays that readers will relish for their piquancy, texture, and nutritional value. This reviewer is always on the lookout for a work, accessible to undergraduates, that links science and the humanities, and this readable book could easily provide the focus for a semester's worth of team teaching. He came away having tasted a good many ideas, learned something from all of them, and, equally important, left the table hungry for more. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
Smart Casual traces the evolution of American gourmet restaurant culture and design over the last 40 years. Fine dining once meant immaculately dressed maître d's and stuffy waiters serving traditional haute cuisine in elegant settings. Today, popular and critical acclaim is just as likely to be heaped upon the hip modern chef who expresses a unique style in a rustic café, a minimalist food bar, or a mobile food truck. Pearlman (art and design historian, Cal Poly Pomona) explores this evolving landscape through such trends as informal dress, casual atmospheres, open kitchens, communal tables, local and environmentally sustainable ingredients, fusion cuisine, and the creative reimagining of comfort foods. The rise of foodies, the ascendency of celebrity chefs, and the proliferation and influence of modern cooking media (blogs, websites, books, TV shows, etc.) are also on the menu. Most of these trends and issues have been written about elsewhere, but Smart Casual is concise and well researched, and Pearlman brings some interdisciplinary perspectives to the mix. It should serve as a useful addition to food studies, cultural studies, sociology, and design history collections. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty/researchers.
A street-food vendor's needs are simple enough: a stocked cart, truck, or booth, and a street with sufficient traffic to generate the critical mass of customers needed to produce adequate revenue. There are also localized factors to consider, such as whether the sale of food out of a more or less portable facility is legal and safe from the encroachments of rivals and from local criminals offering protection. The safety of the food itself is perhaps more a concern to the customer than the vendor. This book cites a UN report that 2.6 billion people eat street food daily, so these conditions are apparently met on many streets. In a collection of 15 studies, plus a final discussion, academics trained in sociology, nutrition, political science, business, and other disciplines produce a broad picture of the functions of street-food vendors around the world. Some vendors, especially in developing countries, provide both an important source of nutrition and employment opportunities in cities growing faster than their infrastructures can keep pace with. Other vendors offer prosperous consumers in richer countries an introduction to a variety of ethnic foods. An interesting look into an understudied industry. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.