New Books Network

Rachel Laudan

Cuisine and Empire

Cooking in World History

University of California Press 2015

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FoodNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 24, 2019 Al Zambone

With Al Zambone this week is Rachel Laudan, author of the fascinating Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (University of California Press, 2015). Once...

With Al Zambone this week is Rachel Laudan, author of the fascinating Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (University of California Press, 2015). Once a historian of science and technology, living and teaching in Hawaii made her a historian of food. In her book she describes the development and decline of cuisines throughout world history over 20,000 years, and how shifts in “culinary philosophy”—how humans have thought about what they eat—led to the creation of new cuisines. It’s a rich collection of history and insights into how not only past generations but we ourselves choose to live our lives and tell our history to ourselves. Along the way she has some gentle admonitions to gluten-free advocates, paleo-dieters, Michael Pollan, and those of us who have considered having “Eat Local” tattooed on our forearms. She and Al also discuss how “normal people” might begin to not only collect their family’s recipes, but “do” food history.


Al Zambone is a historian and the host of the podcast Historically Thinking. You can subscribe to Historically Thinking on Apple Podcasts.