New England culinary history traces the evolution of early colonial foodways, from Native American influences to an emerging sense of regional cooking. The cookbooks illustrate the cultural history that parallels the culinary.
Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization
W. Hoping Carter
Everything you’ve never imagined about one of civilization’s necessities: indoor plumbing. Part anecdote, part history, often tongue in cheek, Carter will keep you chuckling over matters you’ve probably taken for granted.
The Story of Corn
Food, drink, fuel, ceremony, cultural and religions icon, corn takes center stage in a beautifully illustrated and written book. A lot more to corn than corn on the cob and ethanol. A classic among foodways books.
The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance
Three hundred and forty pages devoted to such a mundane object? Petroski manages to blend the history of the pencil with reflection on engineering in an engaging and surprisingly entertaining work.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that changed the World
A brief, very readable history of the codfish as food, livelihood, nation builder, and precious commodity. An entertaining mix of history, politics and religion, and, of course, recipes. Nicely illustrated.
Spice: the History of a Temptation
Your kitchen spice rack was once a king’s ransom. Spices drove global exploration, slavery, and wars. They were used as seasoning, cosmetic, medicine and aphrodisiac. An entertaining, scholarly read.
Everything you didn’t know about bees and honey. A delightful look at both of them from the ice age to the present, their treatment in literature, philosophy, religion and medicine. Beautifully written and illustrated.
Salt: A World History
Another offering from food historian Kurlansky. This most humble of seasonings (“the only rock we eat”) has an important place in history, serving as currency in ancient Rome (salary) and as the symbol of Indian independence in Gandhi’s hands. All the time in between is an interesting and entertaining read.