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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

4.5 (396 )
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4.6 (358 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Michael C. Lott Sandy, Utah USA 04-26-14
    Michael C. Lott Sandy, Utah USA 04-26-14 Member Since 2013

    ~m

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    "Outstanding Reveal on Food"
    What made the experience of listening to Food: A Cultural Culinary History the most enjoyable?

    Professor Ken Albala is well polished and presents in an very engaging way.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love food and felt I was comfortably well informed about most things food. A Cultural Culinary History just expanded my Universe in a fun way with an incredibly fascinating wealth of information the evolution of this most common necessity.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Ken Albala’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Food: A Cultural Culinary History is the first I've heard of Professor Ken Albala's work. And I loved it.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Pillage the Pantry


    Any additional comments?

    Professor Ken Albala is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject of food and culinary history. I love his tone and just how comfortable he is with a subject that effects us all whether we know how or why exactly. I'll be listening to this Series again. It was that good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Waunakee, WI, United States 10-26-13
    Cheryl Waunakee, WI, United States 10-26-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Educational, yet very entertaining"
    What made the experience of listening to Food: A Cultural Culinary History the most enjoyable?

    The professor weaves together the story of food, food production, cooking and eating on various peoples' culture since the beginning to agriculture to today's genetically modified foods.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Food: A Cultural Culinary History?

    One of the reasons Martin Luther protested the Roman Catholic Church's ban on consumption of animal products during lent was because the geographic region where Luther was located depended on butter as the main cooking fat instead of olive oil.


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

    I liked everything about his presentation. Excellent story teller and educator.


    Any additional comments?

    A must listen for anyone who is interested in food, cooking and history.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 05-12-15
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 05-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A history class reinvented."

    I bought all "The Great Courses" when they went on sale and this one is my favorite so far. Great narrator, interesting facts, and packed with history. Easy and engrossing listen. If you liked Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" you'll probably like this one.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacey Albany, NY, United States 09-12-13
    Stacey Albany, NY, United States 09-12-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Loved it!"
    Where does Food: A Cultural Culinary History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Definitely one of my favorites. I would love to hear more from Prof Albala!


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

    He's just so darn knowledgeable. I really enjoy his excitement about food - everything is just *delightful*!


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie abingdon, MD, USA 02-21-15
    Leslie abingdon, MD, USA 02-21-15 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascinating, Informative and Entertaining"

    Great course. Thought-provoking and eye-opening information about one of the basic parts of everyone's existence. Food for the intellect.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 02-04-15
    Catherine 02-04-15
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    "Great Overview"

    This is a comforting trip down well established roads, but there are delightful views along the way. Well worth a listen. Bring paper and pen to write down source materials if you are so inclined.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Moller Copenhagen 01-31-15
    D. Moller Copenhagen 01-31-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Very interesting review of world history through"

    The lens of food. I'm a huge great courses fan, and this was one of my favorites. It's of course not long enough, and there's not nearly enough focus on Asian cuisine, but it was extremely interesting to follow the development of food preparation from prehistory to the present, and to see all the ways in which food and politics mix. Am planing to listen to it again immediately

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Eisbruch Ann Arbor, MI United States 01-31-15
    Emily Eisbruch Ann Arbor, MI United States 01-31-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Connects food with history, culture, religion"
    Where does Food: A Cultural Culinary History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    yes


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Food: A Cultural Culinary History?

    I enjoyed the description of cottage food industries, such as for beer and cheese.


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

    Tremendous enthusiasm and a great way of integrating food, history, culture, religion, and economics.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a fantastic audio course. I appreciated the connections drawn between food, culture, religion, history, and economics. Professor Albala presents a lively and fascinating look at topics including the history of agriculture, food and social class, spice trade, cooking methods, the order in which courses are eaten, eating etiquette, use of cutlery, chopsticks, eating with ones hands, cookbooks, restaurants, religious traditions such as fasting, Kashrut, and the Eucharist, food advertising, the industrialization of the food industry, genetically modified foods, and modern food trends (organic foods, local sourcing etc.). His descriptions of Medieval feasts (flaming peacocks!) are amazing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda Lezama Athens, TN United States 01-31-15
    Brenda Lezama Athens, TN United States 01-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Very Good!"

    A complete lecture about how we have come to eat the way we do and how food is the way it is today. It's very informative and worth your time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beatriz 11-05-14
    Beatriz 11-05-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Biased"
    What disappointed you about Food: A Cultural Culinary History?

    While most of this course was quite interesting, I was disappointed by how biased and European and American centered the content was. Asia and Arab food are treated once and then ignored, as though they remained static for the rest of history. Africa is described as an almost homogeneous lump and dismissed with just "fufu", ignoring the Asian and Arab influences in Eastern Africa and only injera is mentioned from Ethiopian cooking.

    In the 20th century, the bias gets worse. Immigrant cooking is restricted to immigrant cooking in the US. Other immigrant streams are completely ignored. 20th Century cooking becomes "20th Century Cooking in the American Middle Class". The radical changes in Japanese food after WWII? Not here. How Europe copes with industrialized food? Pass. Food in the Communist Block? Nope.

    Finally, he closes with a rant against food industry. The negative points he brings up are very relevant but he glosses over the pros, which would give a more balanced view: how food born disease are down, how infant death by contaminated milk is almost unheard of as are infant ricketism and scurvy, etc.


    Any additional comments?

    Please add the companion PDF to the download. It is referenced several times in the audio.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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