Cuisine and Empire
Cooking in World History
University of California Press 2015
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.