FOOD by Arnulf & Louise Esterer


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Track down every reference to food in the encyclopedia, arrange your notes and you can approximate the current volume--if your source is sound, you might even do better. The first few chapters, purportedly tracing the history of food production and distribution, are replete with consequential and inconsequential errors: among the former, the assumption ""that man ate the large animals into extinction,"" the assertion that farming began in the Fertile Crescent, ignoring its simultaneous appearance in Mexico. ""The mists of ten thousand years ago"" are slow in clearing: to say that ""Amerindians. . . were living in their own Neolithic culture when the Spaniards found them"" betrays ignorance again, and why insist that ""particularly white men"" promoted the spread of products without acknowledging that non-white men were responsible for the cultivation of most of them--what the one grew, the other bought and sold. What follows is more accurate but mostly cursory and sometimes illogical: under ""Pampering the Palate"" is not only sugar and spices but also poisonous plants and narcotics; under ""Food Has Enemies"" not only pest and disease control but also the productive efforts of the Department of Agriculture, in the section on preservation, mention of many kinds of cheeses but not of their relative keeping qualities. With chapters also on experimentation and irrigation, on food festivals and present problems, it's one-stop shopping but no substitute for the specialized outlets.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Messner