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Why Food Matters


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About the Author

Paul Freedman is Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University. He specializes in medieval social history, the history of Spain, comparative studies of the peasantry, trade in luxury products, and the history of cuisine.


“If anyone could elevate food from the tasty to the erudite, it is this author, whose primary career is as a historian of medieval Europe, and who naturally tends away from the sensational statement, the grand generalisation, the razzle-dazzle, towards intricate curiosities, pattern-finding in miniature.”—Zoe Williams, The Guardian

“Freedman moves smoothly from medieval French fabliaux that play on the different food horizons of each class . . . to early modern Spanish investigations into covert Jewish food practices among the conversos, and the calming effect of the Javan slametan, a ceremonial meal consumed in response to life-changing events . . . Freedman's breadth of reference . . . is a sure strength.”—Tom Jaine, Times Literary Supplement

“Paul Freedman is a fluently readable adept of food history, its well-trodden highways, and some of its lesser-known byways.”—Stuart Walton, The World of Fine Wine

“A rich and fascinating narrative that reaches deep into the historical and cultural larder of societal experience, powerfully illustrating the myriad ways that food matters as an essential condiment for humanity.”—Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack

“Freedman is a master historian. Methodical and dexterous, he laces historical accounts with analysis and storytelling that informs and delights.”—Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and author of The Third Plate

“With wit, erudition and urgency, Paul Freedman casts a wide net across history and global cultures to show how we are defined by the food we eat—and ignore it at our peril.”—Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

“Highly entertaining and critically astute, Why Food Matters is a serious look at the evolution of the language of food. We have to turn to history to understand how we want food to look like in the future. Paul Freedman's brilliant telling of historical and contemporary foodways—their successes and failures—provides many laugh-out-loud, shaking head, lightbulb, and aha! moments.”—Elizabeth Falkner, chef and creative director, ChEF Productions

“Wide-ranging, surprising, and deliciously readable. Paul Freedman conveys his deep knowledge and passion for the history of food in lively, lucid prose, revealing the myriad ways we define ourselves through what we eat.”—Irina Dumitrescu, University of Bonn

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