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From the publisher
‘An absolute gem’ Sunday Times
‘A mouthwatering history’ The Guardian
In this delicious history of Britain’s food traditions, Diane Purkiss invites readers on a unique journey through the centuries, exploring the development of recipes and rituals for mealtimes such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to show how food has been both a reflection of and inspiration for social continuity and change.
Purkiss uses the story of food as a revelatory device to chart changing views on class, gender, and tradition through the ages. Sprinkled throughout with glorious details of historical quirks – trial by ordeal of bread, a fondness for ‘small beer’ and a war-time ice-cream substitute called ‘hokey pokey’ made from parsnips – this book is both an education and an entertainment.
English Food explores the development of the coffee trade and the birth of London’s coffee houses, where views were exchanged on politics, art, and literature. Purkiss introduces the first breeders of British beef and reveals how cattle triggered the terrible Glencoe Massacre. We are taken for tea, to the icehouse, the pantry, and the beehive. We learn that toast is as English as the chalk cliffs. We bite into chicken, plainly poached or exotically spiced. We join bacon curers and fishermen at work. We follow the scent of apples into ancient orchards.
A rich and indulgent history, English Food will change the way you view your food and understand your past.
The table is set, have a seat, and tuck in.