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Food: A Cultural Culinary History

Written by: Ken Albala,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Ken Albala
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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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

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What listeners say about Food: A Cultural Culinary History

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    4 out of 5 stars

This is a Western food history course

This audio presentation is really two courses spliced together. The first is an academically rigorous course on Mediterranean, Western European, and American culinary history. It is properly contextualized in its social, cultural, political, economic, and even medical background, but this completeness often makes it plodding, especially in the first half. It will teach you everything you wanted to know about the history of Western cuisine, and then some.

By contrast, the second, much shorter course offers the briefest of surveys of non-Western food cultures, with minimal consideration of the possibility that they may change over time or differ across communities. The pace is quick and the tone is glib, essentialist, and occasionally entertaining. The purpose seems to be to add context to the first course, and conclusions are often limited to those which had an impact on Western eating patterns. This second course is well-suited to the listener who wants some interesting anecdotes, written from a Western perspective, and nothing more.

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15 people found this helpful

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  • tc
  • 2018-11-17

Amazing

I absolutely adored this series and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. Not only is it so well researched and detailed, it actually includes recipes that you can make that are thousands of years old. Ken Albala effortlessly weaves history, religion, and sociological information into his book in order to give you a greater understanding of why people ate the way they did and what that meant. He goes into dining practices, agricultural practices, and food preparation practices. I have never read anything like this book. It opened my eyes to so much and sparked many other interests in the history of food.

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14 people found this helpful

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Enthusiastic and informative

If you love cultural history, this is the book for you. Through the lens of food, you get a deep and informative look at the history and culture of peoples around the world from ancient times to the modern. Myths are debunked and surprising facts are uncovered. The narrator's presentation brings it all to life without sacrificing any of the information nor making the lectures dry and unpalatable. One of the best I've listened to from the Great Courses series.

#Audible1

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9 people found this helpful

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Awesome, super informativr

This was an excellent audio book and I listened to it over the course of a single week. The narrator was very entertaining to listen to! Completely enjoyed!!

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3 people found this helpful

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Wonderful and enlightening

This course was engaging and so full of unexpected connections . Good pacing, speaker has a great sense of timing and humour!

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3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great lecture series, a little US-centric.

Really enjoyed this series. The presenter was extremely knowledgeable and structured the lectures in an intuitive way. I do wish he had covered other parts of the world for the last two hundred years.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Worth every minute of listening.

This was a wonderful book/series of lectures. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s applicable, relatable, interesting, and interconnected. Great lecturer too, very passionate and light hearted as well as respectful and earnest.

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2 people found this helpful

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Excellent historical perspective.

The lecturer is passionate and lively. The material, fascinating. So many fun facts to learn and the historical narrative to reveal.

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2 people found this helpful

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Best audiobook I've purchased on Audible to date

Very Informative, interesting, and goes into a great depth. speaker is very entertaining. loved it

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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply fascinating!

Like a celebratory grand banquet, this lecture series revealed delectable course after course, with each chapter more appetizing and triumphant than the last. Ken Albana takes the listener on a historical culinary journey, which inspires the imagination through expert story telling. Will definitely return to this again in the future, as listening to it was a sensory delight! Highly recommend!!

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1 person found this helpful