Cooking through History

A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Food with Menus and Recipes

by Melanie Byrd and John P. Dunn, Editors


More than just something to eat, food has figured prominently in daily life throughout history, helping to define cultures and commemorate special events.

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Cover image for Cooking through History

October 2020


Pages 828
Volumes 2
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics World History/Culture
  Geography and World Cultures/Culture
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From the prehistoric era to the present, food culture has helped to define civilizations. This reference surveys food culture and cooking from antiquity to the modern era, providing background information along with menus and recipes.

Food culture has been central to world civilizations since prehistory. While early societies were limited in terms of their resources and cooking technology, methods of food preparation have flourished throughout history, with food central to social gatherings, celebrations, religious functions, and other aspects of daily life. This book surveys the history of cooking from the ancient world through to the modern era.

The first volume looks at the history of cooking from antiquity through the Early Modern era, while the second focuses on the modern world. Each volume includes a timeline, historical introduction, and topical chapters on food stuffs, food preparation, eating habits, and other subjects. Sections on particular civilizations follow, with each section offering a historical overview, recipes, menus, primary source documents, and suggestions for further reading. The work closes with a selected, general bibliography of resources suitable for student research.


  • Timelines help users identify key events related to the history of cooking
  • Topical essays cover important subjects across cultures
  • Sections on particular civilizations, regions, or countries provide historical coverage of cooking methods and food culture
  • Recipes, sample menus, and other documents give readers important information about cooking methods and food history within particular societies
  • Suggestions for further reading direct users to additional sources of information
Author Info

Melanie Byrd is Professor of History at Valdosta State University, where she teaches courses on world civilizations and other topics. Her work has appeared in such journals as Napoleonic Scholarship and Napoleon: His Life, His Wars, His World.

John P. Dunn is professor of history at Valdosta State University, where he teaches a wide range of history courses. His previous books include Khedive Ismail's Army (2005). His work has appeared in Journal of the Middle East and Africa, Security and Defense Quarterly, and other publications.

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