A History of English Food

  • by Clarissa Dickson Wright
  • Narrated by Clarissa Dickson Wright
  • 13 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this major new history of English food, Clarissa Dickson Wright takes the reader on a journey from the time of the Second Crusade and the feasts of medieval kings to the cuisine - both good and bad - of the present day.
She looks at the shifting influences on the national diet as new ideas and ingredients have arrived, and as immigrant communities have made their contribution to the life of the country. She evokes lost worlds of open fires and ice houses, of constant pickling and preserving, and of manchet loaves and curly-coated pigs. And she tells the stories of the chefs, cookery book writers, gourmets, and gluttons who have shaped public taste, from the salad-loving Catherine of Aragon to the foodies of today.
Above all, she gives a vivid sense of what it was like to sit down to the meals of previous ages, whether an 18th-century labourer's breakfast or a 12-course Victorian banquet or a lunch out during the Second World War. Insightful and entertaining by turns, this is a magnificent tour of nearly 1,000 years of English cuisine, peppered with surprises and seasoned with Clarissa Dickson Wright's characteristic wit.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating, entertaining and informative

If you could sum up A History of English Food in three words, what would they be?

Really great to hear the story told by the author herself.


What did you like best about this story?

we all know about her obvious passion for cooking, but few know that Clarissa has an equally deep knowledge of history and in particular food and its introduction to the British Isles through history, whose influence on the commonwealth through the 18th and 19th centurys is the resulting fabric of my own culinary heritage.


What about Clarissa Dickson Wright’s performance did you like?

Familiar and warm, she reads in a conversational voice, and its as though you are sitting talking with her over a cup of tea.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

What you never suspected about british food, the aristocracy and the poor.


Any additional comments?

Loved it. Vale Clarissa- thank the universe you penned your great work to leave as your legacy!

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- Carole Withane

Interesting food history

As a fan of the two fat ladies and deeply interested in the lost arts of the kitchen I really wanted to give this book a go and I did enjoy it.

Clarissa gives a good run-through of English cuisine starting from Medieval times. It is quite fascinating what she has to say and listening to some of the recipes she has un-earthed make me wish I had bought the printed book so I could try some of them.

There are a few disappointments however. For some reason the tone of her voice isn't as boisterous or excitable as she was in the Two Fat Ladies TV series. She is often quite monotone and only occasionally bursts out with her usual enthusiasm.

There are also a lot of "I supposes" and "In my opinions" so that although she has obviously researched her material there are quite a lot of educated guesses about her subject matter. Not hugely distracting but it happens so often you do start to wonder how much solid facts are in the book.

All in all I did enjoy the book, although I am not sure how many listens I will give it.
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- Lola

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-12-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audiobooks