Monday, July 16, 2018

A Bite Sized History of France by Stephane Henaut and Jeni Mitchell

I requested this book from Netgalley purely because it’s about food (even though I don’t really know or eat a lot of French Food).

A Bite Sized History of France tackles French history through its food, from the Gauls (before the Roman Empire) to modern day France. Each chapter is relatively short and focuses on one food, such as honey, wine, many types of cheeses, the croissant (a relatively new invention, it seems), salt, how the potato become popular, and much more.

Along the way, the book dispels some common legends about food and tries to put them in the proper light.

While the book is organised roughly in chronological order, the topical nature of the book means that this isn’t the right place to get an overview of French history. Certain people (like Napoleon and some of the Kings) pop up in a couple of pictures but things aren’t placed into the bigger picture.

But, this book is an enjoyable way to dip in and out of French history. I will freely admit to being an ignoramus about the subject and it was fun to learn about things like how mushrooms became popular (and how seriously they take mushroom hunting). There are also some really great chapters that explore the darker side of French history, namely French’s colonial ambitions that brought peanut oil to the nation.

Overall, this was a fun book that foodies will definitely enjoy. It not only introduced me to French history and culture (and lots of food), it also showed me the global nature of food through the development of French cuisine.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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