Food in World History  book cover
2nd Edition

Food in World History

ISBN 9781138857056
Published June 5, 2017 by Routledge
164 Pages

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Book Description

The second edition of this concise survey offers a comparative and comprehensive study of culinary cultures and food politics throughout the world, from ancient times to the present day. It examines the long history of globalization of foods as well as the political, social, and environmental implications of our changing relationship with food, showing how hunger and taste have been driving forces in human history. 

Including numerous case studies from diverse societies and periods, Food in World History explores such questions as:

  • What social factors have historically influenced culinary globalization?
  • How did early modern plantations establish patterns for modern industrial food production?
  • Were eighteenth-century food riots comparable to contemporary social movements around food?
  • Did Italian and Chinese migrant cooks sacrifice authenticity to gain social acceptance in the Americas?
  • Have genetically modified foods fulfilled the promises made by proponents?

This new edition includes expanded discussions of gender and the family, indigeneity, and the politics of food. Expanded chapters on contemporary food systems and culinary pluralism examine debates over the concentration of corporate control over seeds and marketing, authenticity and exoticism within the culinary tourism industry, and the impact of social media on restaurants and home cooks.

Table of Contents


1. The First World Cuisine

Part I. The Ingredients of Change

2. The Columbian Exchange

3. Sugar, Spice, and Blood

4. Nouvelles Cuisines

5. Moral and Political Economies

Part II. The Taste of Modernity

6. The Industrial Kitchen

7. Cuisine and Nation-Building

8. Empires of Food

9. Migrant Cuisines

Part III. The Global Palate

10. Guns and Butter

11. The Green Revolution

12. McDonaldization and its Discontents

13. Culinary Pluralism


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"I had been waiting for this second edition impatiently. Jeffrey Pilcher is a five-Michelin-star-rated food historian and Food in World History is just the perfect Food History textbook; distilling the most relevant literature in the field into an essential, intelligent, and tremendously engaging narrative." 

Simone Cinotto, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy

"Jeffrey Pilcher has provided readers with an appetizing introduction to the rapidly growing field of food history. Written in his well-known lively and efficient prose, Professor Pilcher weaves together a truly global history of food, one that pays respects to key aspects of the discipline of world history -- cross-cultural exchange, the neolithic and pastoral revolutions, the rise of states and empires, and changing categories of class and gender, all remarkably balanced with respect to diverse regions. Food in World History will serve as a guidebook to aficionados of food history at all levels, from the casual reader to professional researchers."

Rick Warner, Wabash University, Crawfordsville, USA

"Food in World History is compulsory reading for the food scholar. Written in concise language and an engaging style, this new edition has added discussion of gender, indigeneity, corporate control over food and marketing, food authenticity and exoticism in tourism, and the influence of social media on food practices."

Cecilia Leong-Salobir, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia