When eating escargot de Bourgogne at a three-star restaurant, you are consuming the world's oldest cattle. Snails have been bred for food for more than 5,000 years. The nutmeg you sprinkle on your eggnog was, one upon a time, the object of war between the Dutch and the English.
These are a sampling of the remarkable connections found in this entertaining work--from the origins of cooking to the inception of herding and agriculture to the industrialization and globalization of food. Because cuisine is a--perhaps the--defining characterization of culture, Near A Thousand Tables, is a sampler of civilization; because we meet our environment most intimately when we eat, this is an exploration in historical ecology. Because cooks were the first chemist, this is a history of science. Above all, perhaps, because food is universally appealing and irresistibly topical, this is unashamedly a book of human pleasures.