The Hungry Empire
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The Hungry Empire : How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

4.25 (4 ratings by Goodreads)
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`This is a wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire', Max Hastings, Sunday Times The glamorous daughter of an African chief shares a pineapple with a slave trader... Surveyors in British Columbia eat tinned Australian rabbit... Diamond prospectors in Guyana prepare an iguana curry... In twenty meals The Hungry Empire tells the story of how the British created a global network of commerce and trade in foodstuffs that moved people and plants from one continent to another, re-shaping landscapes and culinary tastes. To be British was to eat the world.The Empire allowed Britain to harness the globe's edible resources from cod fish and salt beef to spices, tea and sugar. By the twentieth century the wheat to make the working man's loaf of bread was supplied by Canada and his Sunday leg of lamb had been fattened on New Zealand's grasslands. Lizzie Collingham takes us on a wide-ranging culinary journey, charting the rise of sugar to its dominant position in our diets and locating the origins of the food industry in the imperial trade in provisions. Her innovative approach brings a fresh perspective to the making of the Empire, uncovering its decisive role in the shaping of the modern diet and revealing how virtually every meal we eat still contains a taste of empire.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 38mm | 753g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • The Bodley Head Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1847922708
  • 9781847922700
  • 18,060

Review quote

"One of the charms of this book is that Collingham includes recipes and menus from many periods and colonies ... This is a wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire ... it is droll to be reminded how many sought merely a square meal." -- Max Hastings * Sunday Times * "Revelatory ... The Hungry Empire is an original and thought-provoking book and for all the shocking accounts of the consequences of British appetites, a highly entertaining one." -- Daisy Goodwin * The Times * "This ingeniously constructed history shows that what we think of as personal appetites have largely been constructed by the machinations of empire. The Taste of Empire uses vivid snapshots of meals to tell the story of how Britain's quest for food drove its imperial ambitions. Collingham takes the reader on a powerful journey ... Like Sidney Mintz or Margaret Visser, Collingham is a historian whose writing about food informs larger stories about human existence: about conflict and culture, about economics and politics. I was dazzled by Collingham's writing and her book also left me very hungry." -- Bee Wilson, author of FIRST BITE "Empire has a hidden history: the menu, and how it changed the world. Lizzie Collingham has uncovered an epic that runs from domestic comedy to horror to the startling shifts that brought rice to America, maize to Africa and tea to India, and she makes it absorbing and utterly readable, mixing the huge economic story with exact and fascinating glimpses into past lives. You'll never see a biscuit tin the same way once you know how they were used in the Zulu Wars." -- Michael Pye, author of THE EDGE OF THE WORLD "Lizzie Collingham's fascinating new book, The Hungry Empire, demonstrates that a cup of tea is never just a cup of tea - it is a history of trade, exchange, land-grab, agricultural innovation and economic change... This is a marvellously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections" -- Lucy Lethbridge * Financial Times *show more

About Lizzie Collingham

Lizzie Collingham taught History at Warwick University and was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge before becoming an independent historian. Her books include Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors and The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. She is currently an Associate Fellow of Warwick University and the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge. She recently completed a project researching the history of the kitchens of the Indian President's palace and regularly lectures on a gastronomic tour of Kerala. She works in a garden shed near Cambridge.show more

Review Text

"Empire has a hidden history: the menu, and how it changed the world. Lizzie Collingham has uncovered an epic that runs from domestic comedy to horror to the startling shifts that brought rice to America, maize to Africa and tea to India, and she makes it absorbing and utterly readable, mixing the huge economic story with exact and fascinating glimpses into past lives. You’ll never see a biscuit tin the same way once you know how they were used in the Zulu Wars."show more

Rating details

4 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 50% (2)
4 25% (1)
3 25% (1)
2 0% (0)
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