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Food: A Cultural Culinary History | [The Great Courses]

Food: A Cultural Culinary History

Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history, from prehistoric times to the present. Epicure Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said it best: "Gastronomy governs the whole life of man."
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Publisher's Summary

Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history, from prehistoric times to the present. Epicure Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said it best: "Gastronomy governs the whole life of man."

In fact, civilization itself began in the quest for food. Humanity's transition to agriculture was not only the greatest social revolution in history, but it directly produced the structures and institutions we call "civilization."

In 36 fascinating lectures, award-winning Professor Albala puts this extraordinary subject on the table, taking you on an enthralling journey into the human relationship to food. With this innovative course, you'll travel the world discovering fascinating food lore and culture of all regions and eras - as an eye-opening lesson in history as well as a unique window on what we eat today.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (172 )
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Performance
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  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 09-02-13
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 09-02-13 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

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    "Very interesting course"

    Wish I'd had college professors like this one. Prof. Albala was animated and enthusiastic about his subject and held my attention. I especially enjoyed the portion about food in ancient Rome and the very early recipes that still exist from there and other places a s well. His discourse puts a human face on the people who preceded us and brings them to life through the very human process of nourishment.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 08-10-13
    Michael 08-10-13
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    "This is a fabulous lecture series"

    I have been a fan and customer of the attaching company for years. I like this format better.
    dr. Albala has a great command of history, and science. he is an expert guide to a world view of food throughout the ages. I enjoyed his lectures immensely.

    My only complaint is that the chapters are not well separated as usual for the iPhone version.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica WOODLAND HILLS, CA, United States 12-28-13
    Jessica WOODLAND HILLS, CA, United States 12-28-13 Listener Since 2005
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    "One of my top 3 favorite courses!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Food: A Cultural Culinary History to be better than the print version?

    I love the audio editions of these courses, but would love to have access to some printed materials to go along with it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I thoroughly enjoyed all the chapters. Some of the stand outs included the chapter on how agriculture and food gathering gave rise to civilization; the section on food in Greece and Rome, and the first cookbooks; the section about food in the Muslim culture, how animals must be humanely killed and a prayer said over them, basically thanking them for sustaining humans by giving up their own life; and the section on French cooking. I really like the way he explained GMOs, making the science simple and easy to understand. Prof Albala also did a great job wrapping up the course with "food for thought," discussing what the future might bring in an world whose resources are dwindling and whose population is growing.


    What does Professor Ken Albala bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Prof Albala is an exceptional narrator and storyteller. Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He really pulls you into the story. And he has a great sense of humor. You never get bored.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. Not that it wasn't riveting. It's just that it is very, very long, more than 30 hours. And it was packed with a ton of information, giving an overview that begins with hunter-gatherers, on through to the various ages and cultures, and closing with present food trends and what the future might have in store. I usually listened for 2 or 3 hours at a time and then had to stop and digest the information. I wrote down some of the names of the people and cookbooks he mentioned so that I could do further exploration later on the topics that interested me most.


    Any additional comments?

    If you love food and you love history, you will love this course. I'm a huge fan of the Teaching Company and have purchased about 20 courses from them and Audible over the years. This one ranks up there as one of my top 3 favorites.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lady 09-26-13
    Lady 09-26-13

    Amazon Power Reader

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    "Interesting"

    Professor Albala is enthusiastic in his delivery and coverage of the topics. He does a fine job and covers various time periods and cultures as well as the routes foods would have traveled. While Albala attempts to avoid an Imperialistic tone, there is a hint of empire in the views he presents as he often acts as an cultural framer for present-day views on various non-white cultures. Also, he does not cover the interchange of culture and foods between Africa and Europe. He does, however, cover the Fertile Crescent, the Roman Empire, India, China, Europe the Middle East, South America, as well as North Africa. The book is as much about culture as food, perhaps more so. I would recommend it for anyone interested in an introduction to food history along with the associated time periods and cultures.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel WINTER HAVEN, FL, United States 07-22-13
    Rachel WINTER HAVEN, FL, United States 07-22-13 Member Since 2006
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    "outstanding!"
    Would you listen to Food: A Cultural Culinary History again? Why?

    Yes! Entertaining and educational!


    What other book might you compare Food: A Cultural Culinary History to and why?

    Anything by this professors!


    What about Professor Ken Albala’s performance did you like?

    Everything!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really, it was consistently interesting the time.


    Any additional comments?

    Get this course!

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    moka1327 Los Angeles, CA 09-03-14
    moka1327 Los Angeles, CA 09-03-14 Member Since 2007

    M.K.

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    "Interesting and insightful history on food!"

    I really enjoyed this lecture series. I eating all kinds of food so naturally a cultural history of food would be fascinating to me. What I found most interesting was how food really reflected major historical changes in human history. Professor Abala was also a very lively lecturer who is obviously passionate about the subject matter and passes on that enthusiasm to his listeners. I learned a lot of great facts about where foods come from that will make me look at all kinds of foods with a greater appreciation! Definitely recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick 08-03-14
    Rick 08-03-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Have listened multiple times"
    Would you listen to Food: A Cultural Culinary History again? Why?

    Yes, this lecturer is very accessible - easy to listen to and draws you in. The content is rich, and I particularly enjoyed the example recipes he shared across the cultures and time periods described.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meg 07-09-14
    Meg 07-09-14
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    "Fascinating"
    Would you listen to Food: A Cultural Culinary History again? Why?

    I'd definitely listen to this again; as with most of the Great Courses, I feel that there is so much information packed into each lecture that periodically circling back for more will be inevitable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luc L 06-10-14
    Luc L 06-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Wide-ranging, interesting and well-organised"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Great topic. A lot of territory (cultures) covered, at times glanced at. Professor Ken Albala's kept my interest and well organised.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan C. Lawhorne 06-06-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent history of world through lens of food"
    If you could sum up Food: A Cultural Culinary History in three words, what would they be?

    Informative and entertaining


    Any additional comments?

    An intriguing, panoramic trip through the history of the world through the story of food

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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