The Taste of Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

Category: Book
By (author): Collingham, Lizzie
Subject:  HISTORY / Africa / General
  HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
  HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
  HISTORY / North America
  NON-FICTION / General
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Basic Books
Published: October 2017
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 408
Size: 9.62in x 6.50in x 1.37in
Our Price:
$ 43.75
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*
A history of the British Empire told through twenty meals eaten around the world

In The Taste of Empire, acclaimed historian Lizzie Collingham tells the story of how the British Empire's quest for food shaped the modern world. Told through twenty meals over the course of 450 years, from the Far East to the New World, Collingham explains how Africans taught Americans how to grow rice, how the East India Company turned opium into tea, and how Americans became the best-fed people in the world. In The Taste of Empire, Collingham masterfully shows that only by examining the history of Great Britain's global food system, from sixteenth-century Newfoundland fisheries to our present-day eating habits, can we fully understand our capitalist economy and its role in making our modern diets.

Review Quote*New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice pick
Review Quote*Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4
Review Quote*"Collingham writes about the British Empire from a unique perspective.... The history of West Indian sugar, African slavery, and American colonization is an oft-told tale, but Collingham takes mere mercantilism and expands and deepens its consequences."-Booklist, starred review
Review Quote*New York Times Book Review
"Joyously delicious...In her original and supremely captivating book, [Collingham] has cleverly recreated the fine details of some 20 meals, consumed for four and a half centuries in a variety of homes and ships and tented encampments far from the motherland...In British terms, she is Henry Mayhew and Mass-Observation rolled into one-a stellar observer of the day-to-day and the mundane, a social historian of extraordinary talent."
Review Quote*Wall Street Journal
"The entwined histories of food and British imperialism...have been strangely overlooked in the decades of research since. In The Taste of Empire, Lizzie Collingham puts that neglect to rights, showing in a tour de force of synthesis that food was one of the driving forces of empire and helped form the eating habits of the entire modern world...Collingham's great achievement is to take [the empire's] food history out of the realm of cozy nostalgia and show it for the potent economic and political force it was."
Review Quote*NPR
"The Taste of fascinating reading, and its central point is more than clear: Britain's many hungers shrank the world in ways that are still nearly impossible to untangle...Whether you're a foodie or a history buff, this should be a satisfying read; sometimes the best way to history's heart is through its stomach."
Review Quote*The Washington Post
"Collingham...sees trade in sugar, spice, rice and tea as the reason the British were so keen to command sea routes dating from the 16th century...The result is the stuff of lively cocktail party conversation among the geekiest of food lovers, right down to the occasional recipe for mock turtle, rum punch and (Hello, Bridget Jones!) leftover turkey curry."
Review Quote*"Lizzie Collingham's fascinating new book, The Taste of Empire, demonstrates that a cup of tea is never just a cup of tea--it is a history of trade, exchange, land-grab, agricultural innovation and economic change.... This is a marvelously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections."
-Financial Times
Review Quote*"An original and thought-provoking book and for all the shocking accounts of the consequences of British appetites, a highly entertaining one."
-The Times (UK)