Thursday, June 18, 2009

"An Edible History of Humanity"

I DON'T think there's a book i've given as a gift more often than "a history of the world in 6 glasses," a brisk and delightful tour, from ancient egypt to 20th century america, in roughly 250 pages. it left me with memorable images : mesopotamians discovering beer, imperial romans swilling wine, coffee being downed in cafes in 18th c. london and edinburgh --where it fueled the age of reason.

the author, economist magazine editor tom standage, has a new book, "an edible history of humanity," which looks at the way food -- the invention of agriculture, the food surpluses that allowed artists and priests to develop, the coming of hierarchy and the use of food in war and politics -- has shaped human history.

HERE is my interview with standage from today's LAT. i spoke to him a few days before a book party in new york that would offer hunter-gatherer appetizers and work though food history with each course.

one of the book’s surprising points: the move to farming was at best an ambiguous step for the human race, involving a lot more work and a less healthy diet: latter day greeks and turks have still not regained their height from their stone age days.

and who knew the ancient romans used to worry about food miles?

i look forward to what this guy comes up with next.

Photo credit: Maurus/ Bridgeman Art Library, London; Giotto/ pinakothek, munich

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