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Publisher's Summary

Why do we eat toast for breakfast, and then toast to good health at dinner? What does the turkey we eat on Thanksgiving have to do with the country on the eastern Mediterranean? Can you figure out how much your dinner will cost by counting the words on the menu?

In The Language of Food, Stanford University professor and MacArthur Fellow Dan Jurafsky peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know. Thirteen chapters evoke the joy and discovery of reading a menu dotted with the sharp-eyed annotations of a linguist. Jurafsky points out the subtle meanings hidden in filler words like "rich" and "crispy", zeroes in on the metaphors and storytelling tropes we rely on in restaurant reviews, and charts a micro-universe of marketing language on the back of a bag of potato chips. The fascinating journey through The Language of Food uncovers a global atlas of culinary influences. With Jurafsky's insight, words like ketchup, macaron, and even salad become living fossils that contain the patterns of early global exploration that predate our modern fusion-filled world. From ancient recipes preserved in Sumerian song lyrics to colonial shipping routes that first connected East and West, Jurafsky paints a vibrant portrait of how our foods developed. A surprising history of culinary exchange - a sharing of ideas and culture as much as ingredients and flavors - lies just beneath the surface of our daily snacks, soups, and suppers. Engaging and informed, Jurafsky's unique study illuminates an extraordinary network of language, history, and food. The menu is yours to enjoy.

©2014 Dan Jurafsky (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"Ever since I heard the phrase 'fresh frozen' I have been wondering about food language. Now Dan Jurafsky has taken on the subject with scholarship, wit, and charm, making The Language of Food a very engaging book." (Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Highly interesting but a lot of fluff

I loved the points and Information being expressed... There was too much fluff to get to the point... It made it very hard to focus

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Get the book, not the audiobook

I really liked the contents of this book. It covers a number of linguistic adventures into the meaning of various food words and how they have evolved across different cultures. However, audiobook is not the best medium for the contents of this book. The book contains menus, recipes, and illustrations that do not translate well in audio format. On top of this, the narrator mispronounces several non-English words. I'm going to return this audiobook and the get the paper book instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The reader mispronounces multiple words.

The reader mispronounced multiple words. I made it to chapter 4 and gave up. The reader's errors made my skin crawl. Words like "Abbasid", "prevalent", and "conquistador" should not be that hard.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Narrator ruins this otherwise interesting book

This would have been a nice, interesting but light and fast listen if the narrator hadn't been so insufferable. Try reading this instead.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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not that interesting

This book was not particularly informative and quite boring at times. He repeated himself or draw out his discussions much too long.

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A good blend of food and language.

Not a bad read. Short and interesting enough. He swings from being a bit too heady to a smidge pedantic from time to time but overall it has good content and explanation of terms, techniques and ideas. He uses anecdotal transitions quite a bit that I found slightly out of place given the rest of the story but not so much as it detracted from the overall story. I didn't much care for the narrator at first but ultimately his tone and pacing worked with the book.

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great book..

reading this book for one time is not enough as it is very interestingly informative