In this major new history of English food, Clarissa Dickson Wright takes the reader on a journey from the time of the Second Crusade and the feasts of medieval kings to the cuisine - both good and bad - of the present day.
She looks at the shifting influences on the national diet as new ideas and ingredients have arrived, and as immigrant communities have made their contribution to the life of the country. She evokes lost worlds of open fires and ice houses, of constant pickling and preserving, and of manchet loaves and curly-coated pigs. And she tells the stories of the chefs, cookery book writers, gourmets, and gluttons who have shaped public taste, from the salad-loving Catherine of Aragon to the foodies of today.
Above all, she gives a vivid sense of what it was like to sit down to the meals of previous ages, whether an 18th-century labourer's breakfast or a 12-course Victorian banquet or a lunch out during the Second World War. Insightful and entertaining by turns, this is a magnificent tour of nearly 1,000 years of English cuisine, peppered with surprises and seasoned with Clarissa Dickson Wright's characteristic wit.
©2011 Clarissa Dickson Wright (P)2012 Random House AudioGo
As a fan of the two fat ladies and deeply interested in the lost arts of the kitchen I really wanted to give this book a go and I did enjoy it.
Clarissa gives a good run-through of English cuisine starting from Medieval times. It is quite fascinating what she has to say and listening to some of the recipes she has un-earthed make me wish I had bought the printed book so I could try some of them.
There are a few disappointments however. For some reason the tone of her voice isn't as boisterous or excitable as she was in the Two Fat Ladies TV series. She is often quite monotone and only occasionally bursts out with her usual enthusiasm.
There are also a lot of "I supposes" and "In my opinions" so that although she has obviously researched her material there are quite a lot of educated guesses about her subject matter. Not hugely distracting but it happens so often you do start to wonder how much solid facts are in the book.
All in all I did enjoy the book, although I am not sure how many listens I will give it.
Brits and Aussies may remember Clarissa Dickson Wright as one half of the Two Fat Ladies. I did, and as such couldn't resist buying this book. I wasn't disappointed - with her characteristic wit and wisdom, Dickson Wright makes this gastronomic history of England both entertaining and fascinating. I'm still musing over the origin of the phrase "to eat humble pie", which I had often wondered about but never known who to ask.
Yes, there are a lot of "I suspect"s, a lot of theories which the author really can't substantiate - but at least she acknowledges this, and the unexpected personal musings and personal recollections only add to the flavour of this book, if not to the academic rigour.
Dickson Wright's narration of her own work is of course fantastic - really no one else's voice would do.
An absolute must for anyone interested in history and/or food.
I really enjoyed this book, especially the reading of it. It was fascinating and full of snippets of information I have never heard before. Ms Dickson-Wright hit just the right balance of info and fun without it being boring. I would thoroughly recommend it.
This is not a genre I would normally go for, however, I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed this listen. Clarissa gives her straightforward, highly knowledgeable, chronological account of the history of English food. It may sound like a 'dry' topic for a good entertaining listen but it's actually full of interesting little snippets of knowledge. It's something I will listen to over again.
The subject matter.
Anyone. Her style of speech is ideal for the tv but considering she was a barrister and she wrote the book she seemed to have no feel for the text. I ended up not finishing the last part because I became so irritated by her phrasing.
Authors shouldn't be allowed to narrate their books unless they are also actors.
I really enjoyed this and have listened to it several times - there is so much interesting information that you gain something new each time. It gives you a real sense of time and place with intriguing insights into the ways and attitudes of the English through the unusual perspective of food and eating habits.
I like having an author doing their own narrating and Clarissa is very easy to listen to with the same mix of practical common sense and humour that we encounter with her cooking programmes. I hope it prompts a TV series.
"Phew! What a knowledge and passion for food"
I listened to this wonderful history of food and found myself captivated by Clarissa 's knowledge and wealth of details wrapped up in a passion for all things food and delivered with humour and wit. I will listen to it again and again I know I will find something new in each listen. A great book and a great cook! Fabulous and thank you..
"Great holiday 'reading'"
We downloaded this for a long drive to the south of France last summer and it was brilliant. Well written and well read by Clarissa with a real feel for the food and the history and interspersed with anecdotes to link the two. Thoroughly recommended
Clarissa is a knowledgeable, articulate and entertaining guide to our culinary history. Thoroughly enjoyed this book, just wish it was a demonstration with opportunities for tasting some of the dishes!
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