HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Food History

For those whose interest in food goes beyond just eating it, here's a website sent to me by my library listserv. I browsed it quickly and found a lot of unusual information.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. thanks missyme, that is very informative. i'm gonna waste some more time playing with that! ;-) (like chowhound!)

    1. I've spent the better part of this morning exploring the site. Very interesting indeed!

      1. Yes, indeed! Thank you very much for this link. Definitely be perfect lunchtime viewing. :)

        1. What is so good about the food timeline is that unlike most sources on the web, they back up their info with references. I've used it quite a bit over the years. Great section on sandwiches.

          1. Oh this is terrific. Thanks so much for posting this. I'll be unable to NOT waste a lot of time here......

            Great site!

            1. OK, if I get fired from my job, it will be YOUR fault!!!

              1. Where was this when I was writing the curricula for the Food History class I taught in the 1980s and 1990s? Nothing like this existed and, hundreds of books later, I had my course written "Who Eats What and Why?". I could have spent more time at the beach if I already had a timeline .......
                There is a lot of " 'splaining" to do about all the missing why why whys of history and it is rather western-centric but helpful and interesting nonetheless.

                Thanks for posting it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Sherri

                  What books did you use? I taught a high school humanities class entitled 1000 Tables from the book and still look for more titles for my own information and pleasure.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    I'll hunt down my bibliography if you're serious. Meantime, some of my favorites include: Reay Tannahill's FOOD IN HISTORY, YOU EAT WHAT YOU ARE by Thelma Barer-Stein, Jean-Francois Revel's CULTURE & CUISINE, A TASTE OF ANCIENT ROME by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, EAT THE GRAPES DOWNWARD by Vernon Pizer, Katie Stewart's THE JOY OF EATING, FOOD IN CIVILIZATION by Carson Ritchie, WHY WE EAT WHAT WE EAT by Raymond Sokolov, ALL MANNERS OF FOOD by Stephen Mennell, THE BELLYBOOK and THE FOOD CHRONOLOGY by James Trager, Kittler & Sucher's Sociology textbook FOOD AND CULTURE IN AMERICA, FABULOUS FEASTS by Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Barbara Wheaton's classic SAVORING THE PAST, SWEETNESS AND POWER by Sidney Mintz, the lighthearted THE SECRET LIFE OF FOOD by Martin Elkort and because I was teaching in the Southwest, Gary Paul Nabhan's GATHERING THE DESERT.

                    Unfortunately, many of these titles are out of print. The "new guys" such as: Kurlansky's SALT et al, Flandrin & Montanari's FOOD, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat's frenchcentric HISTORY OF FOOD were not yet available when I was working on this project.

                    I went to a pretty decent university and never heard much at all about food's role in world history. I wish there had been a class like this when I was in school and I tried to create what I would have wished for. I needed to tone down the purely academic aspect a bit since I had future chefs as students. They were much more interested in generalizations, how this relates to the foods & flavors in their kitchens and the overall view rather than exact dates and dead kings.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      This is sufficient, thanks. Interlibrary loan, here I come! I see you live in Ariz. I got my MA at UNM on 4 bushels of Corrales chiles (2 red and 2 green) and 100 lbs of pinto beans. Went to small Pa. liberal arts college and Ivy school admin studies. Used to teach in a 2 room adobe mainly Navajo school in Fence Lake, NM.. Try and find it on a map (Hint. Not too far from Snow Flake Ariz.) The kids are making Korean chicken soup w/ 2 heads of garlic! Making stacked red chile enchiladas with Hatch chile for the kids visiting for the simmer.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        I'm having a difficult time posting replies and my latest just disappeared. Trying again.

                        We go through the Snowflake AZ area on major cross-country trips and will be on the lookout for Fence Lake, NM on our next jaunt. From the sounds of it, I'd better not sneeze.

                        My sons attended NAU on yearly Christmas gifts of 50 pound sacks of pinto beans and rice -- they were on their own for the chiles. It's almost Hatch chile season here -- nothing like the smell of roasting chiles! If you need some supplies of dried chiles, let me know. We have lots of product and diverse supply in my area.

                        Anything with 2 heads of garlic sounds wonderful! I'd be sorely tempted to use some of the garlic chicken in the stacked red enchiladas .......

                        Good luck on the interlibrary loan. Food History collections are becoming more widely available. Barbara Haber, curator of books at Schleschinger Library, is an avid Food Historian, savvy lady and all-around nice person. She may have some insight for you. Her particular interest -- the regional recipe collections from church ladies, civic groups etc as they tell a poignant story of the time and locale.

                        If you'd like some more titles, let me know. My class targeted worldwide history for thousands of years - c7000BCE to present. I wanted my culinary students to have an understanding of how trendy foods are not new at all but simply re-discoveries of existing foods. EX: wrapping food in flatbreads happens and has happened the world over and is nothing new. Ditto for using plants - banana leaves in the tropics, grape leaves in temperate climates and hardy cabbage in cooler climes.

                        Trade routes played a large role in this class and moving food products around the world pre-airplanes was an interesting concept for the students. It opened the way for discussions of preserving that are also being re-discovered. So much of what's old is new again.

                        I'm getting my teaching itch and need to close before I start a lecture. I'm passionate about this topic and tough to shut up once I begin. Please, please share some of this with your students. It is impossible for them to ignore the global connectivity of food's history and every once in a while, there is that magic moment in teaching when you see the lightbulb over a student's head mark the "Ah-Ha!" moment when all the facts suddenly come together to make sense. Makes me smile just to write this, remembering those times when classes came alive and the questions began to roll in.

                2. Love this site! Thanks, Missyme.