Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal

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Grove Press, Jun 29, 2010 - 352 pages
26 Reviews
A staple of the food-writing genre that prefigured the current locavore and foodist movements by almost two decades, Margaret Visser’s Much Depends on Dinner is a delightful and intelligent history of the food we eat, and a cornucopia of incredible details about the ways we do it.
Presented as a meal, each chapter of Much Depends on Dinner represents a different course or garnish, which Margaret Visser handpicks from the most ordinary American dinner: corn on the cob with butter and salt, roast chicken with rice, salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, and ice cream. Visser tells the story behind each of these foods and in the course of her inquiries reveals some unexpected treats: the history of Corn Flakes; the secret behind the more dissatisfactory California olives (they’re picked green, chemically blackened, and sterilized); and the fact that, in Africa, citrus fruits are eaten whole, rind and all.
For food lovers of all kinds, this intelligent and unexpectedly funny book is a treasure of information that sheds light on one of our favorite pastimes: eating.
  

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Review: Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal

User Review  - Patrick - Goodreads

Interesting, but mostly for being dated. The section on corn was probably progressive 30 years ago, but seems almost quaint now as we deal with GM industrial production. A few sections had some novel historical notes, but a lot of this is (at least now) much more widely discussed. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

A book of essays about our relationship to food, in Western culture. Visser was a classical scholar, and thus extrapolated ideas about common behaviours, and what things like the foods assembled for a ... Read full review

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Contents

Corn Our Mother Our Life
22
Salt The Edible Rock
56
Butter and Something Just as Good
83
Chicken From Jungle Fowl to Patties
115
Rice The Tyrant with a Soul
155
Lettuce The Vicissitudes of Salad
192
Olive Oil A Tree and its Fruits
224
Lemon Juice A Sour Note
259
Ice Cream Cold Comfort
285
References
323
Index
338
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About the author (2010)

Margaret Visser writes on the history, anthropology, and mythology of everyday life. Her most recent book is The Gift of Thanks, published by HarperCollins. Her previous books, Much Depends on Dinner, The Rituals of Dinner, The Way We Are, and The Geometry of Love, have all been best sellers and have won major international awards, including the Glenfiddich Award for Foodbook of the Year in Britain in 1989, the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Literary Food Writing Award, and the Jane Grigson Award. In 2002 she gave the Massey Lectures on CBC radio, subsequently published as the best-selling book, Beyond Fate. Her books have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. She appears frequently on radio and television, and has lectured extensively in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia. She divides her time between Toronto, Paris, and South West France.

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