World Food History

A Set of Food History Books

Christmas food books Whether you buy one, two, or all 50+ titles in this World Food History series by Reaktion Books, each slim volume “explores the rich history of cuisine. . . reveals the global history and culture of a particular food or beverage.” The Taster has now read several and so far, every book has proved reliable, well written and enjoyable.

With so many titles to choose from, you can build up a very personalised set for someone special. The Taster knows what he’d like — Cheese, Figs, Lemon, Pie, and Brandy, thanks very much :) His Aged Mother, in contrast, might like Tea, Cake, Bread, Game and Pancakes. See the whole range HERE, from A for Apple to W for Wine.

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Diet History

Calories And Corsets

Calories & Corsets Louise FoxcroftA history of dieting over 2000 years, by Louise Foxcroft. We particularly liked the chapter on recent history, and how big business and governmental bodies have participated in our ideas about diets and dieters.

“An enlightening and entertaining social history of how we have tried (and failed) to battle the bulge over two millennia. . . Meticulously researched, surprising and sometimes shocking, Calories and Corsets tells the epic story of our complicated relationship with food, the fashions and fads of body shape, and how cultural beliefs and social norms have changed over time. . . This unique and witty history exposes the myths and anxieties that drive today’s multi-billion pound dieting industry – and offers a welcome perspective on how we can be healthy and happy in our bodies.”

Of interest to slimmers, foodies and historians. Published 2013, £8.99 from Profile Books

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Good Food Books

The Taster’s pick of top tomes
If you buy, please mention The Taster
Happy reading!


For the Spice Lover – Rafi’s Spicebox Cookbook


For the Slimmer – Calories & Corsets: a History of Dieting over 2000 Years

Create your own personalised set of books – Global Food Histories


For the Explorer – The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning

1. FOR THE HOME BAKER: Seasonal Gingerbread Recipes
Christmas food booksA jolly little book by Mima Sinclair, who is not limited to gingerbread cottages. She also does town houses, red doubledecker buses, animals, birdhouses and even an entire street. There’s a useful section on the art of icing which will be of great help to novices. Our favourite is the spiralling Christmas tree — one of those ‘genius recipes’ which is really just a heap of iced biscuits, but looks like something from a cake shop window. Order from Kyle Books

Philosopher's Cookbook162 The Philosopher’s Cookbook by Martin Versfeld. “Versfeld’s recipes have more of the poet about them than the instructor, they celebrate the complex relationship between humanity and food. A suitable gift for those of a thoughtful and contemplative nature, The Philosopher’s Cookbook is about the twin arts of slow cooking and pondering. “The art of preparing and eating food is inextricably intertwined with the meaning of life. . . ” Reading this book is like having a big friendly hug from someone who then goes on to explain in close detail why life is, in fact, good; and then serves up an excellent stew as a closing argument.


We’re going on a Bar Hunt, A Parody
Bar HuntJosie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees, illustrated by Gillian Johnson. Give a copy to any parents of young children you know. Inspired. Starts with two rhyming couplets:
We’re going on a bar hunt.
We’re going to find a cool one.
The babysitter’s booked.
We’re not old!
Any parent will get the gist . . . Originally published by Constable & Robinson 2013; now published by Little, Brown. Other similar titles include The Very Hungover Caterpillar and The Teenager Who Came To Tea


Spices & Spandex — an epicurean adventure down the length of the world on a hungry stomachThe Nomadic Kitchen 2014
Spice Kitchen UK has teamed up with author Tom Perkins to present a collection of African spices, to match and complement Tom’s ravishing, tactile, beautifully distressed coffee-table volume. The book tells of a monumental bike tour undertaken by Tom and a buddy, Matt Chennells, through 26 countries over 501 days, from Kent to Cape Town. Cycling 20,000km required a lot of calories. As Tom puts it, the boys travelled ‘at street level, focusing on the local: the backstreets, the vendors and the artisans’ — an approach that led to this ‘magpie book of esteemed national dishes, local delicacies and side-street offerings.’ With over 350 pages of menus, recipes, essays, photos and collages, this is a fabulous foodie gift; putting it together with the spices is a master move. Click on either pic (below) to link to the Spice Kitchen page.

Spandex picspices & spandex


Hungry YearsCLICK: The Hungry Years (Confessions of a Food Addict) “One January morning in 2003, William Leith woke up to the fattest day of his life. That same day he left London for New York to interview controversial diet guru Dr Robert Atkins. What started out as a routine assignment set Leith on an intensely personal and illuminating journey into the mysteries of hunger and addiction. The Hungry Years charts new territory for anyone who has ever had a craving or counted a calorie. This story of food, fat, and addiction will change the way you look at food for ever” Very engaging, often extremely funny, one of those books you cannot put down as you long to find out how it all ends.

Christmas Food books6. COOKBOOK FOR CHILDREN

The Gastronomical Guide to Fabulous Food! By Claire Bosi & Petri Hosken. One of the best food books we’ve read in a while, very Taster in approach. Ostensibly for children, but adults may well pinch it from time to time. Crammed full of entertaining pics, recipes, info, trivia. Brilliant. Published by A Way With Media


Catching FireCatching Fire (How Cooking Made Us Human) A riveting read for anyone interested in human evolution and the importance of cooking in early human history. Rather than opposable thumbs, or complicated powers of vision, Richard Wrangham “argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. . . Covering everything from food-labelling and overweight pets to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument.”


(Grub Street)

If you haven’t yet found your perfect gift book, it’s always worth rummaging through the archives at Grub Street Publishing House. This excellent independent publishing house specialises in just two niches: food & wine, and aviation. (We’ll leave the aviation for now.) Like The Taster, Grub Street’s mission is to publish excellent food writing, rather than the latest celeb chef tomes: pleasingly, this hasn’t stopped Nigella herself(!) describing them as ‘the cookery publisher with a culinary conscience.’ The Taster has been lucky enough to peruse a number of their titles and what we’ve noticed is how often they contribute to our understanding of food history, as well as lots of delicious recipes. Our current favourite is Cakes, Regional & Traditional (pictured above). Although The Taster himself has more of a savoury than a sweet tooth, if anything is going to make that old gentleman try a Singin’ Hinny, or a Norfolk Vinegar Cake, this book is it.
DeliciouslyWGDF_Cover_screenClick on our previous blogs on The Best of Jane Grigson
and A Century of British Cooking
Grub Street is also taking an especial interest in catering for the new interests in healthy cuisines, including wheat-, gluten- and dairy-free diets as typified by their new title by Antoinette Savill (see pic), The Vegan Bible by Marie Laforêt and Best Salads Ever by Sonja Bock and Tina Scheftelowitz.


Flavour ThesaurusThe Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. An excellent (in fact a unique) alternative to a conventional cookbook. The Taster has encountered several food professionals who use this book on a regular basis, whether to find inspiration for a new flavour of ice cream or come up with a side vegetable to go with a particular type of meat. It’s just as useful for home cooks: “Ever wondered why one flavour works with another? Or lacked inspiration for what to do with a bundle of beetroot? The Flavour Thesaurus is the first book to examine what goes with what, pair by pair. . . There are 980 entries in all, with 200 recipes and suggestions embedded in the text.”


Food of love
The Food of Love
by Anthony Capella. For lovers of Italian food, Italian lifestyle, Italian cookery or chick lit, or just plain lovers. A romantic tale with the added benefit of an appendix of recipes. If the gloom of winter should overcome you, pick this book up and immerse yourself in the sunshine and blue skies of Rome and the Italian countryside and beaches. “It’s a hymn to la dolce vita and the joy of food by someone who knows his stuff and his stuffing, a text that breathes authentic backstreet Rome from every page. I loved it” — The Times. Capella has since written a few more food-themed novels, including The Empress of Ice Cream and The Various Flavours of Coffee

And because The Taster always does a Baker’s Dozen . . .

The Oxford Companion to Food
111 BOOK Oxford Companion This new edition is a seriously substantial Christmas present for any foodie, gourmet or connoisseur who hasn’t already snapped up a copy. Funny and illuminating in equal measure, the original 1999 volume was an overnight success, winning prizes and accolades worldwide for its author, the late Alan Davidson. This updated 2014 volume has been expertly achieved by the impeccably credentialed Tom Jaine. Tom has produced numerous cookery books and often writes for The Times, The Guardian and The Sunday Telegraph; and he has edited The Good Food Guide and presented BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
The Taster frequently finds it invaluable. £40 from the publishers (click on the pic)

Have a good one!

<span class=”highlighttext”><span style=”color: #ffcc00;”>Below, a few more . . .  </span></span>



London Food Festivals

London Food Festivals: plan foodie festivals into your diary. Dates and venues do change sometimes, so check fest websites before setting off.

This month in brief: The Big One is the Cake & Bake Show at ExCel, (nearest stop The Custom House on Docklands railway). Have a good one!

See also Duckpond for smaller markets in Black Park, Pinner, Richmond & Ruislip; realfoodfestival for King’s Cross and Charing Cross weekday markets; Chocolate Ecstasy for chocolate and icecream tours; Street Concepts for more night markets; and UrbanFoodFest and Kerb for streetfood events & markets

April 2016
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June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016

Food Festivals London

England Food Festivals

Plan England Food Festivals into your diary. Dates and venues do change sometimes, so check for updates. Have a good one!

This month in brief: In the season of harvests and harvest festivals, many many events are on for foodies! Notables include the original Food Fest in Ludlow; a seafood fest in Clovelly; Mark Hix’s Food Rocks fest; pears in Faversham, Fishstock in Brixham (Devon), a wine festival in Oxford and the usual sprinkling of chilli fiestas across the country. Have a good one!

February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016

Food And Drink Festivals In England

French Flavour hamper

French Flavour hamperIf you’re a crossword fan, subscribe to The Taster and you’ll get a quarterly chance to win a hamper, cookbooks or equally exciting foodie prize, in addition to the free giveaways & competitions available online.

This hamper is the prize for our crossword currently published in our Autumn issue; for a chance to win, either subscribe or get a free copy of The Taster, complete the crossword and send it to us as directed in the magazine.

French Flavour specialises in supplying quality French and UK artisan food products, delivered direct to your door. Cider, artisan beer, garlic, saucisson, olive oils, patés, sea salt, hand-baked biscuits, sauces & marinades. For full details see or ring 01978 356835

Win A Fairtrade Hamper OR Raw Chocolate Collection

Win Taster Fairtrade Hamper Raw ChocolateWin the below Fairtrade hamper or fab Raw Chocolate Company collection! Just fill out our reader survey below, including the code at the end. The code is published in our print magazine which you can SUBSCRIBE to or, if you live near one of our friends, OBTAIN FOR FREE.

Win Taster Fairtrade Hamper Raw Chocolate

Winners’ names and home towns will be published in this year’s summer issue of The Taster. The deadline is 1 May 2016. Good luck!

Win A Fairtrade Hamper


Win The Taster Fairtrade Hamper or Raw Chocolate Collection

Food Adventure South Wales

Last Word: Adventure!

Food Adventure South WalesThe Taster publishes a regular final interview with a character in the foodie world; in our last issue, this was Carol Adams, founder of Food Adventure South Wales. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Carol spent many years traversing the globe before finally settling in the UK — but, never one to put her feet up, she soon got busy setting up her foodie experiences company: it now attracts visitors from the USA and Europe as well as the rest of the UK. Here’s her story:

“Food has always been a passion  in my life but never a career until now. I grew up in the Bronx, New York, but my original career (in finance and social regeneration) brought me to live and travel in many countries, from the US to France, Israel, West Africa and South America. I’ve always had hobbies around food: in the Bahamas, I was director of a wine & food society; in New Orleans, I organised culinary tours; and over here (earlier this year) I cooked gumbo on ITV’s cookery show Mel and Sue.

I always tried to get to know a country through its food. I loved going to markets; whenever I saw someone buying an ingredient I was curious about, I asked them how they cooked with it. This often led to invitations to come home and cook along with the family! — In this way, I developed extensive knowledge of various cuisines.

When I moved to Wales 10 years ago, I was astounded by the quality of the local food — but also by how little known it was. My husband, Mark, started a food blog (Corpulent Capers) about local restaurants, and persuaded me to start writing about food producers. If I discovered something I loved, I’d go to the producer’s farm or site to learn what made their produce so special.

The blogs were great successes. Mark and I became part of a virtual ‘food community’ and often, my readers would say ‘Oh, I’d love to go with you the next time you visit a producer’.  Thus the idea for Food Adventure was born.

Once I had the idea, I met with food producers, devised tours and set up the website.  In 2014, the first tour for paying guests was ‘A Wonderful Welsh Wine Adventure’. This was a full-day minibus tour of two vineyards in Monmouthshire with a five-course lunch. Up until this point I had no idea if any one would buy a ticket or not! You have no idea how much I celebrated when I sold the first ticket! People came from all over Wales, and also from Bristol. It was a success!

I invited the press and key partners to my official launch. We learnt about dairy farming and ethical rose veal at a Welsh dairy farm followed by a cooking demo and lunch at an award-winning tapas restaurant.

I’ve now used my knowledge of food in Wales to create many unique outings, and I have guests from as far away as London and the US. I offer ‘Tipple Adventures’ for those interested in drinks; or dining adventures for those who want to discover a great restaurant. People can learn skills, such as making bacon or preserves, from award-winning artisan producers; or more general cooking with top chefs, cooks — and myself! In our foraging adventures, farm visits and walks, people can discover beautiful scenery and historical places as well as great food. It has all been a great Adventure!”

To book a tour or class, see or, if you would like a more bespoke experience, ring Carol on 07542 689608.

Food Adventure South WalesCarol recently also started contributing ideas to The Taster’s seasonal notes (ideas for cooking using seasonal ingredients). To read the full seasonal notes in our printed magazine, subscribe here.

Food Magazine Advertising

Sales JobDo you know your apples from your oranges?

Do you enjoy selecting and eating good quality food, from seasonal veg and sustainable fish, to artisan treats or English & Welsh wines? Or creating the perfect kitchen, dinner table or outdoor-eating scenario?

We’re seeking advertising sales reps for The Taster food & drink magazine, who enjoy thinking and talking about food, and can identify and talk to the new breed of food producers. Our readers want to buy premium and ethical foods, and they’re interested in kitchen gadgets, kitchen decor & furniture, cookery courses, wine tastings and eating out. Meanwhile, thousands of foodpreneurs and artisans are starting up companies every year seeking to cater for such customers. We need you to bring these people together!

We’ll provide leads and ideas, if you’ll also bring some imagination and initiative to the table. Like most of us, you’ll work from home and your hours are your own. We don’t mind how many or how few adverts you sell, but we will pay a generous commission on those you do sell.

We’re a small but friendly team of foodies, excited about our magazine and about helping to champion new food businesses in the UK. Our circulation has doubled over the past two years and for the right person, further prospects are a real possibility.

To make a start, ring 020 7993 2234 in office hours or email your CV to and tell us why you’d like to join the party.

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