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Most of us like to look at them, but why on earth would anyone want to eat them? As Constance L. Kirker and Mary Newman show in this book, however, flowers have a long history as a tasty ingredient in a variety of cuisines. The Greeks, Romans, Persians, Ottomans, Mayans, Chinese, and Indians all knew how to cook with them for centuries, and today contemporary chefs use them to add something special to their dishes. Edible Flowers is the fascinating history of how flowers have been used in cooking, from ancient Greek dishes to the today’s molecular gastronomy and farm-to-table restaurants. Looking at flowers’ natural qualities: their unique and beautiful appearance, their pungent fragrance, and their surprisingly good taste, Kirker and Newman proffer a bouquet of dishes—from soups to stews to desserts to beverages—that use them in interesting ways. Tying this culinary history into a larger cultural one, they show how flowers’ cultural, symbolic, and religious connotations have added value and meaning to dishes in daily life and special occasions. From fried squash blossoms to marigold dressings, this book rediscovers the flower not just as something beautiful but as something absolutely delicious.
In Dates, Nawal Nasrallah draws on her experience of growing up in the lands of ancient Mesopotamia, where the date palm was first cultivated, to explore the history behind the fruit. Dates have an important role in their arid homeland of the Middle East, where they are a dietary staple and can be consumed fresh or dried, as a snack or a dessert, and are even thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. In this history, Nasrallah describes the central role the date palm has played in the economy of the Middle East. This informative account of the date palm’s story follows its journey from its land of origin to the far-flung regions where it is cultivated today. Along the way, Nasrallah weaves many fascinating and humorous anecdotes that explore the etymology, history, culture, religion, myths, and legends surrounding dates. For example, she explains how the tree came to be a symbol of the Tree of Life and associated with the fiery phoenix bird, the famous ancient goddess Ishtar, and the moon, and how the medjool date acquired its name. This delightful and unusual book is generously illustrated with many beautiful images, and supplemented with more than a dozen delicious date recipes for savory dishes, sweets, and wine.
Char-grilled or boiled? Sauerkraut or chili? Mustard or ketchup? Vienna Beef or Sabrett? Only these questions could be raised about one of the world’s favorite backyard, picnic, ballgame, and street foods—the hotdog. Though nearly two billion hot dogs are consumed by Americans annually in the month of July alone, there is absolutely no consensus on which is the right way to serve up a hotdog. In Hot Dog, well known food historian Bruce Kraig recounts the history of this popular “tube steak” from the origin of the sausage 20,000 years ago to its central place in American culture today. Kraig discusses the many brands, including Hebrew National, Pearl, Sabrett, and Vienna Beef, and the regional variations that go along with them—like kosher-style New York dogs loaded with mustard and sauerkraut, New England dogs with Boston Baked Beans, and fully-loaded Chicago style hotdogs, complete with mustard, onion, relish, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, a dash of celery salt, and tomato slices (but never, ever ketchup). Hot Dog covers the other international sausages, like bologna and bockwurst, as well, and explores some of the apocryphal tales of the hotdog in history—like the origin of its name and whether Queen Elizabeth II was truly served hotdogs on a visit to the White House. Packed with tasty facts and recipes, Hot Dog reveals the rich history and passionate opinions about this seemingly ordinary food.
Apple pie. Pumpkin pie. Shepherd’s pie. Chicken potpie. Sweet or savory, pies are beloved; everyone has a favorite. Yet despite its widespread appeal there has never been a book devoted to this humble dish—until now. Janet Clarkson in Pie illustrates how what was once a purely pragmatic dish of thick layers of dough has grown into an esteemed creation of culinary art. There is as much debate about how to perfect the ideal, flaky pastry crust as there is about the very definition of a pie: Must it have a top and bottom crust? Is a pasty a pie? In flavorful detail, Clarkson celebrates the pie in all its variations. She touches pon the pie’s commercial applications, nutritional value, and cultural significance; and she examines its international variations, from Britain’s pork pie and Australia and New Zealand’s endless varieties of meat pie to the Russian kurnik and good old-fashioned American apple pie. This delectable salute to the many pies enjoyed the world over will satisfy the appetites of all readers hungry for culinary history and curious about the many varieties of this delightful food, and it just might inspire them to don aprons and head for the stove.
You can pick Chicago deep dish, Sicilian, or New York-style; pan crust or thin crust; anchovies or pepperoni. There are countless ways to create the dish called pizza, as well as a never-ending debate on the best way of cooking it. Now Carol Helstosky documents the fascinating history and cultural life of this chameleon-like food in Pizza. Originally a food for the poor in eighteenth-century Naples, the pizza is a source of national and regional pride as well as cultural identity in Italy, Helstosky reveals. In the twentieth century, the pizza followed Italian immigrants to America, where it became the nation’s most popular dish and fueled the rise of successful fast-food corporations such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s. Along the way, Helstosky explains, pizza has been adapted to local cuisines and has become a metaphor for cultural exchange. Pizza also features several recipes and a wealth of illustrations, including a photo of the world’s largest and most expensive pizza—sprinkled with edible 24-karat gold shavings and costing over $4000. Whether you love sausage and onions on your pizza or unadorned cheese, Pizza has enough offerings to satiate even the pickiest of readers.
Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crêpe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness. Pancake traverses over centuries and civilizations to examine the culinary and cultural importance of pancakes in human history. From the Russian blini to the Ethiopian injera, Albala reveals how pancakes have been a perennial source of sustenance from Greek and Roman eras to the Middle Ages through to the present day. He explores how the pancake has gained symbolic currency in diverse societies as a comfort food, a portable victual for travelers, a celebratory dish, and a breakfast meal. The book also features a number of historic and modern recipes—tracing the first official pancake recipe to a sixteenth-century Dutch cook—and is accompanied by a rich selection of illustrations. Pancake is a witty and erudite history of a well-known favorite and will ensure that the pancake will never be flattened under the shadow of better known foods.
Krone der Schöpfung? Vor 100 000 Jahren war der Homo sapiens noch ein unbedeutendes Tier, das unauffällig in einem abgelegenen Winkel des afrikanischen Kontinents lebte. Unsere Vorfahren teilten sich den Planeten mit mindestens fünf weiteren menschlichen Spezies, und die Rolle, die sie im Ökosystem spielten, war nicht größer als die von Gorillas, Libellen oder Quallen. Vor 70 000 Jahren dann vollzog sich ein mysteriöser und rascher Wandel mit dem Homo sapiens, und es war vor allem die Beschaffenheit seines Gehirns, die ihn zum Herren des Planeten und zum Schrecken des Ökosystems werden ließ. Bis heute hat sich diese Vorherrschaft stetig zugespitzt: Der Mensch hat die Fähigkeit zu schöpferischem und zu zerstörerischem Handeln wie kein anderes Lebewesen. Anschaulich, unterhaltsam und stellenweise hochkomisch zeichnet Yuval Harari die Geschichte des Menschen nach und zeigt alle großen, aber auch alle ambivalenten Momente unserer Menschwerdung.

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