The Taste of Britain

4.08 avg rating
( 12 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780007241323: The Taste of Britain

For too long Britain has failed to celebrate its culinary heritage. But from the introduction of borage to the British Isles by the Romans to the nation's love-hate relationship with Marmite, Britain has always played host to an astonishing range of gustatory traditions.

This delightful compendium of Britain’s traditional regional foods combines fascinating local history about the origins of some of our most distinctive and curious foodstuffs with a celebration of the ways in which the most humble cut of meat can embody culinary traditions stretching back through the ages.

Far from the bland and stodgy board usually associated with British cuisine, ‘The Taste of Britain’ reveals a culinary portrait of remarkable wealth and character – from Fat Rascals to Fidget Pie, Cornish pasties to Chelsea buns, and Bedfordshire Clangers to Bath Chaps. Entries have been carefully selected on the grounds that they have been produced in one place for more than three generations, and many for much longer: more than merely a history of food, this is a tribute to a Britain that predates the supermarket era and evokes traditions that date back hundreds of years. Sussex cattle, for example, are mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, while Shakespeare described an early forerunner of the Cockney favourite, jellied eels, in ‘King Lear’.

In range, warmth and enthusiasm, ‘The Taste of Britain’ is a book for absolutely everyone from the 'foodie' connoisseur interested in the origins of the Careless Gooseberry to the culinary neophyte for whom each entry provides a delightful potted history of taste, industry and tradition. With new material, beautifully redesigned from the original 1999 edition, the cumulative effect of this enthusiastic, heartfelt and endlessly fascinating homage to regional foods is a joyful and compulsively readable celebration of the variety and curiosity of Britain’s manifold culinary traditions, and the pride which they inspire.

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Review:

‘HarperCollins has given it a major redesign in hardback and very attractive new look, turning it into a covetable item…(and) it settles arguments and solves pub quiz questions.’ Time Out

‘“The Taste of Britain” is a fantastic compendium of all that is great about regional British food, and it is stunning to look at the range of produce we can draw from this country, from our pears to our hams to our ginger beers. [It] tells you everything you wanted to know, from the difference between a Norfolk knob and a Dorset knob, to the history of Tizer and the average weight and dimension of the haggis…a book that makes you proud to be British.’ Gordon Ramsay, The Times on Saturday

‘“The Taste of Britain” conjures up an image of a vibrant, productive kitchen, the eaves hanging with strings of onions, tomatoes ripening in the windows, bread in the oven, chutneys on the dresser…It shows also that avoiding supermarkets is not some grey penance that we choose to impose on ourselves in order to save the world but, on the contrary, an embracing of pleasure, variety and quality. And for all the attempts of television chefs to encourage locally based cooking, TV by its very nature as a medium encourages sitting down and staring rather than cooking – so really TVs should be thrown out of the window, and the money saved should be spent on books like this.’ New Statesman

More praise for ‘The Taste of Britain’:

‘This is a heavenly book, put together with love and scholarship…”The Taste of Britain” is nothing less than a celebration of local produce, of the best food and drink to be bought within these shores…this is a book to cherish for what it reminds us about quality, and about the culinary treasures in our midst…and it is a model of book-making, beautifully designed and printed. Forget all those collections of recipes piled high in the bookshops. Buy this instead…there is nothing quite like it.’ Sunday Times

‘A book so sumptuously rich in detail that you want to swallow it at a single sitting. It opens up a dazzling new world of unknown food … this rich and heartening celebration … (is) wonderfully informative.’ Daily Telegraph

‘For the sake of our culinary souls, it’s to be hoped this handsome new hardback will sell a million… Rush out and buy it, dip into it daily and never leave the motorway without it.’ Literary Review

‘This is the kind of thing everyone should read and keep for reference…’ Simon Hopkinson (taken from article in The Independent)

‘The 1999 classic tome has had a magnificent face-lift…essential for any British food lover.’ Tom Parker-Bowles’s ‘Book of the Year’, Mail on Sunday

‘[A] magnificent compendium of indigenous food and recipes…he combination of food lore and history is irresistible. And like the best dishes it is beautifully presented.’ The First Post

'If you've ever wondered what a Bedfordshire Clanger was or what goes into a Fidget Pie, then this book is for you. Some wonderful idiosyncratic recipes and definitions of dishes are to be found in this riveting compendium. We have an impressive culinary history and here is a book that celebrates it to the full. A real treat!' Antony Worrall Thompson

'This appealing book started life as a pretty unappealing but extremely useful EU subsidised paperback…which documented and described Britain's traditional foods. Harper has taken it and shaken it by the scruff of its neck to create a large, elegant volume with a cloth cover and sepia etchings…the publishers have had the wit to signal that this is a serious work of reference…for anyone interested in our British foods and traditions, this is an exhaustive encyclopedia, an essential work of reference…it’s also a fascinating read, full of serious information. Full marks to Harper for seeing its potential and for giving the painstaking authors a chance to shine.’ Country Life

‘An enthusiast at HarperCollins has reissued the work as a truly beautiful book.’ Observer

‘[A] scrupulously thorough attempt to document the food specialities of each region of Britain’ Cathy Pryor’s ‘Book of the Year’, Independent on Sunday

About the Author:

Laura Mason was raised on a farm in Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire. A highly respected food historian, her books include ‘Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: The Prehistory of Sweets’, ‘Food and the Rites of Passage’ and ‘Farmhouse Cookery’. She is also a British co-ordinator of the Slow Food movement.

Freelance food writer Catherine Brown grew up in a Glasgow tenement and her first catering job was in a Clydeside docker’s canteen. She worked as a professional chef before becoming a food writer and critic. She writes for The Herald and has won 3 Glenfiddich Food Writing Awards, and in 2001 was named the Guild of Food Writers Food Journalist of the Year.

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