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A Revolution in Taste


  • Page extent: 334 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.6 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521821995)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published September 2008

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$41.95 (G)

Modern French habits of cooking, eating, and drinking were born in the Ancien Regime, radically breaking with culinary traditions that originated in antiquity and creating a new aesthetic. This new culinary culture saw food and wine as important links between human beings and nature. Authentic foodstuffs and simple preparations became the hallmarks of the modern style. Pinkard traces the roots and development of this culinary revolution to many different historical trends, including changes in material culture, social transformations, medical theory and practice, and the Enlightenment. Pinkard illuminates the complex cultural meaning of food in her history of the new French cooking from its origins in the 1650s through the emergence of cuisine bourgeoise and the original nouvelle cuisine in the decades before 1789. This book also discusses the evolution of culinary techniques and includes historical recipes adapted for today’s kitchens.


Part I. Before the Culinary Revolution: 1. The ancient roots of medieval cooking; 2. Opulence and misery in the Renaissance; Part II. Towards a New Culinary Aesthetic: 3. Foundations of change, 1600–1650; 4. The French kitchen in the 1650s; 5. Refined consumption, 1660–1735; Part III. Cooking, Eating, and Drinking in the Enlightenment, 1735–1789: 6. Simplicity and authenticity; 7. The revolution in wine.


"Factual, well-researched, and informative, this book is a fascinating survey of French cuisine during the Enlightenment. Brilliantly narrated and thoroughly documented, it is a must for the culinary historian as well as the cook." -Jacques Pépin, chef, cookbook author, and host of PBS-TV cooking series

"[A] lively account..." --The New Yorker

"...lucidly argued and carefully researched..." --The New York Times Book Review

"...a wealth of lore and trivia..." --Publishers Weekely (starred review)

“It is difficult to write about the history of food in a way that interests both gourmets and historians, but Susan Pinkard rises to the challenge. Her vivid descriptions, menus and recipes are combined with a perceptive and persuasive account of the rise of French cuisine, firmly placed in its cultural context.” -Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

"Susan Pinkard surveys changing ideas of artifice, naturalness, wholesomeness, and taste in the rise of one of the world's great cuisines. A Revolution in Taste is as lively as it is learned." -Steven Shapin, Harvard University

"The 'radically different turn' (pg. 3) that she sees culinary sensibility taking in the seventeenth century which produced modern French cooking can only be understood against the non-modern practices that preceded it as well as those, presumably modern, that followed." -Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Gastronomica

"Pinkard performs careful analytical work with culinary texts familiar to many food historians, offering critical readings and counter-evidence (particularly about the nature of kitchen work) to demonstrate how social practices and cultural beliefs influenced changes in taste."
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Sydney Watts, University of Richmond

"For historians and food lovers interested in discovering the origins of modern French cuisine, this volume is a delight. Pinkard writes evocatively about developments in early modern Parisian cooking in a way that satisfies all the senses." -Sara Beam, Canadian Journal of History

"...this book is a valuable contribution to European food history." -Stephen Mennell, Amercian Historical Review

"Susan Pinkard has crafted an engaging narrative of change and revolution in France, not only in food, but also in social, cultural, philosophical, and scientific matters, and her description of early modern French cuisine reminds us that our modern ideas about food are not so new after all." -Sarah Kernan, eHistory

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