The Oxford Handbook of Food History

Oxford University Press
Free sample

Food matters, not only as a subject of study in its own right, but also as a medium for conveying critical messages about capitalism, the environment, and social inequality to diverse audiences. Recent scholarship on the subject draws from both a pathbreaking body of secondary literature and an inexhaustible wealth of primary sources--from ancient Chinese philosophical tracts to McDonald's menus--contributing new perspectives to the historical study of food, culture, and society, and challenging the limits of history itself. The Oxford Handbook of Food History places existing works in historiographical context, crossing disciplinary, chronological, and geographic boundaries while also suggesting new routes for future research. The twenty-seven essays in this book are organized into five sections: historiography, disciplinary approaches, production, circulation, and consumption of food. The first two sections examine the foundations of food history, not only in relation to key developments in the discipline of history itself--such as the French Annales school and the cultural turn--but also in anthropology, sociology, geography, pedagogy, and the emerging Critical Nutrition Studies. The following three sections sketch various trajectories of food as it travels from farm to table, factory to eatery, nature to society. Each section balances material, cultural, and intellectual concerns, whether juxtaposing questions of agriculture and the environment with the notion of cookbooks as historical documents; early human migrations with modern culinary tourism; or religious customs with social activism. In its vast, interdisciplinary scope, this handbook brings students and scholars an authoritative guide to a field with fresh insights into one of the most fundamental human concerns.
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About the author

Jeffrey M. Pilcher is professor of history, University of Minnesota. His books include The Sausage Rebellion: Public Health, Private Enterprise, and Meat in Mexico City, 1890-1917; Food in World History; and Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity, which won the Thomas F. McGann Memorial Prize.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Oct 16, 2012
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Pages
536
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ISBN
9780199996001
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Cooking / History
History / General
History / World
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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As late as the 1960s, tacos were virtually unknown outside Mexico and the American Southwest. Within fifty years the United States had shipped taco shells everywhere from Alaska to Australia, Morocco to Mongolia. But how did this tasty hand-held food--and Mexican food more broadly--become so ubiquitous? In Planet Taco, Jeffrey Pilcher traces the historical origins and evolution of Mexico's national cuisine, explores its incarnation as a Mexican American fast-food, shows how surfers became global pioneers of Mexican food, and how Corona beer conquered the world. Pilcher is particularly enlightening on what the history of Mexican food reveals about the uneasy relationship between globalization and authenticity. The burritos and taco shells that many people think of as Mexican were actually created in the United States. But Pilcher argues that the contemporary struggle between globalization and national sovereignty to determine the authenticity of Mexican food goes back hundreds of years. During the nineteenth century, Mexicans searching for a national cuisine were torn between nostalgic "Creole" Hispanic dishes of the past and French haute cuisine, the global food of the day. Indigenous foods were scorned as unfit for civilized tables. Only when Mexican American dishes were appropriated by the fast food industry and carried around the world did Mexican elites rediscover the foods of the ancient Maya and Aztecs and embrace the indigenous roots of their national cuisine. From a taco cart in Hermosillo, Mexico to the "Chili Queens" of San Antonio and tamale vendors in L.A., Jeffrey Pilcher follows this highly adaptable cuisine, paying special attention to the people too often overlooked in the battle to define authentic Mexican food: Indigenous Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
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