A tempting tasting platter of foods and eating customs in diverse times and places.
As there are no actual menus and but one informal recipe, these introductions to 16 historical figures (10 of whom are white Europeans or Americans) are more quick snacks than sustained repasts for dedicated foodies. Still, they do convey a sense of where select foods originated and how they traveled—around the world and also beyond. Speaking for themselves, Cleopatra and Sacagawea, Moctezuma, Hokusai, Martin Luther King Jr., Babe Ruth, Neil Armstrong, and the rest summarize their general accomplishments alongside parallel but somewhat more food-oriented third-person commentary and a colorful caricature of the subject usually, but not invariably, at table. Along with observations that Cleopatra would have been served stork, that Napoleon was a messy eater, and like tidbits, readers will come away with some significant morsels of history, such as the role Columbus played in introducing avocados, corn, and beans to Europe and oranges, coffee, and sugar cane to North and South America. Along with a generous dollop of further reading (for adults), the final section dishes up more detail about each of the distinguished diners plus a timeline strewn with factual croutons, from the publication of the first printed cookbook (1465) to the introduction of Lunchables.
Not so much a history of food as history with food—a way of adding a bit of spice to general studies of the past. (Nonfiction. 9-11)