Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Let the Meatballs Rest

This is a collection of 100 brief essays discussing specific foodstuffs, their histories and how they have helped shape the human societies that include them in their diets.

Potatoes, for instance, were introduced to Europe in the 16th century but their bland flavor and "subterranean nature" made them unappealing. Only when other crops had failed and starvation loomed did farmers turn to widescale production of the easy-to-grow spuds.

Garlic, likewise, was once considered fit only for peasants. Eating such strong and foul-smelling food was a damning mark of poverty in the 10th century.

And eggplant, first brought to Europe by Arabs, was long associated with "the lower class and Jews." Yet the peasant cuisine that emerged from their use would later be co-opted by the upper classes.

And Other Stories About Food and Culture
by Massimo Montanari
Columbia University Press, 2012
Cover Art: Let the Meatballs Rest
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