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Eugene N. AndersonFood and Environment in Early and Medieval China

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

by Carla Nappi on March 15, 2015

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Eugene N. Anderson’s new book offers an expansive history of food, environment, and their relationships in China. From prehistory through the Ming and beyond, Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pays careful attention to a wide range of contexts of concern with nature and its resources. Readers of Anderson’s book will find fascinating discussions of rice agriculture and fermentation, the etiquette of food and eating, concerns with deforestation in classical literature, the emergence of principles and practices of environmental management, and much more. Throughout the book, Anderson situates China within a larger frame of Central Asian history, with extensive discussions of the Silk Road and the importance of Mongol empire for the movement and circulation of food- and environment-related materials and practices. Though the main part of the book ends with the Ming Dynasty, a final chapter considers the themes of the book as they thread through modern and contemporary China. Two appendices offer further introductions to related themes – “Conservation Among China’s Neighbors” and “An Introduction to Central Asian Food.” Enjoy!


Margarita MartinezCabot Creamery Cookbook: Simple Wholesome Dishes from America’s Best Dairy Farms

March 11, 2015

An unusual case here: Margarita Martinez is not the author of Cabot Creamery Cookbook: Simple Wholesome Dishes from America’s Best Dairy Farms (Oxmoor House, 2015). But I’m using this interview to reveal an interesting part of the cookbook business. The Cabot book is a group project, the original idea germinated by a publishing house. The […]

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Ana Sofia Peláez and Ellen SilvermanThe Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History

February 19, 2015

If Cuba will soon be a travel destination for Americans, what do we think we know about this neighbor that is so close geographically (93 miles south of Florida) and yet politically so far? For Ana Sofia Peláez, author of The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin's Press, 2014), this is a […]

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Dorie GreenspanBaking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere

February 10, 2015

Excellence. Sometimes it’s an additional 20 percent past “pretty good.” But are you willing to put in that extra effort to polish your work, to make it gleam, to make it function irresistibly for your intended audience? Dorie Greenspan is – and it shows. So excellent and successful a cookbook author is Dorie that all […]

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Bryan VoltaggioHome: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends

February 5, 2015

Why are club sandwiches so good? This is among the important questions we get around to discussing during this podcast. Chef Bryan Voltaggio, a Top Chef finalist and Maryland-area restaurateur, met me at the Malibu Diner in Manhattan, known for blinky fluorescent lighting and a menu that includes cheap burgers and moussaka, to discuss his new cookbook Home: Recipes […]

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Diane KochilasIkaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die

January 21, 2015

Want to know how to live forever? Somewhere on the Greek island of Ikaria, there seems to be a fountain of youth. It may not be a fountain, though. The secret to why inhabitants have one of the longest lifespans on earth is more likely a confluence of factors, one of the most important being […]

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Sarah BeskyThe Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Plantations in India

January 14, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in South Asian Studies] In this wonderful ethnography of Darjeeling tea, Sarah Besky explores different attempts at bringing justice to plantation life in north east India. Through explorations into fair trade, geographic indication and a state movement for the Nepali tea workers, Besky critically assesses the limits of projects that fail to address underlying exploitative […]

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David E. SuttonSecrets from the Greek Kitchen: Cooking, Skill, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island

January 13, 2015

David E. Sutton’s book beguiles. Secrets From the Greek Kitchen: Cooking, Skill, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island (University of California Press, 2014) seems like a simple chronicle of the most basic food practices on the island of Kalymnos. But what practices they are. Cutting boards are not used. Cooks cut food while holding it […]

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Françoise Branget. Translated by Jeannette SeaverFrench Country Cooking: Authentic Recipes from Every Region

December 26, 2014

“How do you govern a country that produces 365 kinds of cheese?” What puzzled Charles de Gaulle inspired Françoise Branget, the author of French Country Cooking: Authentic Recipes from Every Region (Arcade Publishing, 2012). She too is a politician, yet she managed to achieve consensus among a group better known for dissent. She asked 180 of […]

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Andrew CoeChop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

June 13, 2014

Through some quirk of fate, the Hobbesian tag “filling, cheap, and familiar” is probably the defining phrase used when Americans think of Chinese food. Yet what could be less accurate a description of this cuisine, born halfway around the world, which had been evolving for well over a millennium before it was brought to California […]

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