Thursday, December 13, 2007

December's Featured Reference Work

'Tis the season for gathering and eating. Read all about it in the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture by Solomon Katz.

From the CHOICE Review:
...This source (according to the introduction) is "an authoritative survey of the history, production, preparation, science and culture of food from prehistory to the present day." It supplies 725 articles by more than 300 contributors, ranging from anthropologists, food critics, and folklorists to historians and archaeologists. The table of contents is organized alphabetically by 27 topics that include staple foods, food consumption, regions and culture, diet, religion, feasts and festivals, and biographies. Each includes subtopics such as apples, snacks, Cajun cooking, weddings, dietary guidelines, food in the Bible, and Clarence Birdseye. The "Systematic Outline of Contents" again lists the 27 topics. Article lengths range from brief descriptions of a topic to essays several pages long. Most entries have bibliographies, which may be as long as a page; most have see also references. There are 200 maps, 800 black-and-white photographs, and in each volume, an eight-page color photo spread. Throughout the volumes are sidebars, time lines, tables, menus, and recipes. One can find, e.g., the importance of cassava, a recipe for muggety pie, the relationship of food to prehistoric societies, a list of popular snacks with their origin, and how to eat the foul smelling durian. An extensive index may be more useful than the table of contents to locate particular foods or cultures. Well researched and well written. Summing Up: Essential.
The three volumes of the Encylopedia for Food and Culture can be found at REF GT2850 .E53 2003.

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