Food Is Thought

Food is about agriculture, about ecology, about mans relationship with nature, about the climate, about nation-building, cultural struggles, friends and enemies, alliances, wars, religion. It is about memory and tradition and, at times, even about sex, writes editor Mark Kurlansky in his introduction to this collection of short essays, memoirs, poems, and even a few recipes. Its great writing about food and great food for thought. We get the top of the cooking/reviewing food chain (James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher) and masterful selections from historians, writers, philosophers, and anthropologists. Herodotus catalogs Egyptian food in the sixth century B.C.; George Orwell tells of being hungry in Great Depression Paris; Plato speaks of cooking; Margaret Mead ponders the meaning of eating; and Alice B. Toklas pops up several timesnary a mention of brownies. A sample of the delicious contradictions the subject brings out in writers: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, she of The Yearling and Cross Creek, writes, I am still torn on the matter of bird-shooting, and then proceeds to a recipe for blackbird pie (pointing out that legally taken small birds would cook up just as well.)

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