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Feeding France
New Sciences of Food, 1760–1815


Part of Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories

  • Date Published: April 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316647998

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • Feeding France is the first comprehensive study of the French food industry in the decades surrounding the French Revolution of 1789. Though the history of gastronomy and the restaurant have been explored by scholars, few are aware that France was also one of the first nations to produce industrial foods. In this time of political and social upheaval, chemists managed to succeed both as public food experts and as industrial food manufacturers. This book explores the intersection between knowledge, practice and commerce which made this new food expertise possible, and the institutional and experimental culture which housed it. Ranging from the exigencies of Old Regime bread-making to the industrial showcasing of gelatine manufacture, E. C. Spary rewrites the history of the French relationship with food to show that industrialisation and patrimonialism were intimately intertwined.

    • Challenges the widely accepted idea of France as a defender of non-industrial food production
    • Offers the first comprehensive historical study of French food chemistry and industrial production before 1830
    • Covers an extremely broad range of disciplines and topics, integrating political, social and epistemological histories to provide a more rounded view of French food history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'It is a timely pleasure to read E. C. Spary's fascinating study of the rise of scientific eating and industrial food production in eighteenth-century France. This is a story of stuff - bread, meat, potatoes and sugar - and of political contests over the nature of matter.' Medical History

    'This is no standard history of science tome, then. On the contrary it is at one and the same time a contribution to our understanding of the origins of food chemistry and a socio-cultural history of what might be termed the 'political' management of bread and bread substitutes, of meat, of sugar, of coffee, and of niche 'health' foods which in Paris were all items of regular consumption. … E. C. Spary explores relationships in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century France between policymakers, experts and entrepreneurs in the business of food processing which have never been explored before.' P. M. Jones, European History Quarterly

    'Spary's finely detailed [analysis] of scientific networks in late eighteenth-century France reveal the crucial role interlocking networks of personal relationships played in transforming scientific knowledge into the practices of everyday life … that Feeding France makes the reader hungry for more testifies to Spary's command of her material, her field, and her France.' Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, The Journal of Modern History

    'Emma Spary has emerged as one of the most insightful historians dedicated to a new kind of history of science in which science is inextricably bound up with social, cultural, and material realities. This book is a brilliant addition to her expanding oeuvre.' Elizabeth A. Williams, Isis

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316647998
    • length: 430 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 154 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • contains: 28 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Economic eaters
    2. The kingdom of bread
    3. The matter of nourishment
    4. Health foods and the medical marketplace
    5. The potato republic
    6. Making more out of meat
    7. Political palates
    8. The empire of habit

  • Author

    E. C. Spary, University of Cambridge
    E. C. Spary is Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge.

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