Food: A Cultural Culinary History Course Guidebook

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This course explores the history of how humans have produced, cooked, and consumed food—from the earliest hunting-and-gathering societies to the present. This course examines how civilizations and their foodways have been shaped by geography, native fl ora and fauna, and technological innovations. Feeding people has always been the primary concern of our species, and more than any other factor, fi nding, growing, and trading food products has been the prime catalyst in human history. Think, for example, how the desire for spices in the Middle Ages led directly to the discovery of the New World.

The scope of this course is global, covering civilizations of Asia, America, Africa, and Europe and how cultures in each of these continents domesticated unique staples that literally enabled these civilizations to expand and fl ourish. The course also covers marginalized and colonized cultures that were dominated largely to feed or entice the palates of the great. A major theme of the course is the process of globalization, imperialism, and the growth of capitalist enterprise at the cost of indigenous cultures and traditional farming practices and how these processes were shaped by trade in food.

Professor Biography
Course Scope
LECTURE 1: Hunting, Gathering, and Stone Age Cooking
LECTURE 2: What Early Agriculturalists Ate
LECTURE 3: Egypt and the Gift of the Nile
LECTURE 4: Ancient Judea—From Eden to Kosher Laws
LECTURE 5: Classical Greece—Wine, Olive Oil, and Trade
LECTURE 6: The Alexandrian Exchange and the Four Humors
LECTURE 7: Ancient India—Sacred Cows and Ayurveda
LECTURE 8: Yin and Yang of Classical Chinese Cuisine
LECTURE 9: Dining in Republican and Imperial Rome
LECTURE 10: Early Christianity—Food Rituals and Asceticism
LECTURE 11: Europe’s Dark Ages and Charlemagne
LECTURE 12: Islam—A Thousand and One Nights of Cooking
LECTURE 13: Carnival in the High Middle Ages
LECTURE 14: International Gothic Cuisine
LECTURE 15: A Renaissance in the Kitchen
LECTURE 16: Aztecs and the Roots of Mexican Cooking
LECTURE 17: 1492—Globalization and Fusion Cuisines
LECTURE 18: 16th-Century Manners and Reformation Diets
LECTURE 19: Papal Rome and the Spanish Golden Age
LECTURE 20: The Birth of French Haute Cuisine
LECTURE 21: Elizabethan England, Puritans, Country Food
LECTURE 22: Dutch Treat—Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Tobacco
LECTURE 23: African and Aboriginal Cuisines
LECTURE 24: Edo, Japan—Samurai Dining and Zen Aesthetics
LECTURE 25: Colonial Cookery in North America
LECTURE 26: Eating in the Early Industrial Revolution
LECTURE 27: Romantics, Vegetarians, Utopians
LECTURE 28: First Restaurants, Chefs, and Gastronomy
LECTURE 29: Big Business and the Homogenization of Food
LECTURE 30: Food Imperialism around the World
LECTURE 31: Immigrant Cuisines and Ethnic Restaurants
LECTURE 32: War, Nutritionism, and the Great Depression
LECTURE 33: World War II and the Advent of Fast Food
LECTURE 34: Counterculture—From Hippies to Foodies
LECTURE 35: Science of New Dishes and New Organisms
LECTURE 36: The Past as Prologue?

Author Details
"Professor Ken Albala" is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he has been teaching food history and the history of early modern Europe for the past 20 years. In 2009, he won the Faye and Alex G. Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of the Pacific.

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