Menus from History
Historic Meals and Recipes for Every Day of the Year
by Janet Clarkson
July 2009, 832pp, 7x10
2 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34930-0
$201, £155, 175€, A276
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34931-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

If we are what we eat, what was Jane Austen or Abraham Lincoln? What was it like to dine aboard the Titanic, to feast with a tsar, to be a guest at the wedding of Charles and Diana? More important, what do menus teach us about people and the societies in which they lived?

A year's worth of fascinating menus from significant occasions in history around the world offer a thoroughly delightful way to learn more about noteworthy events and people, social classes, and morés.

Menus from History: Historic Meals and Recipes for Every Day of the Year offers a fascinating exploration of dining history through historic menus from more than 35 countries. Ranging from discussion of a Roman banquet in A.D. 70 to a meal for former South African President Nelson Mandela in the 1990s, the menus offer students and general readers a thoroughly delightful way to learn more about events and the cultures in which they occurred. Royal feasts, soldier grub, shipboard and spaceship meals, and state dinners are just some of the occasions discussed.

Arranged chronologically, each entry covers a day of the year and provides a menu from a significant meal that took place. An entry begins with the name, location, and date of the event, plus a brief explanation of its significance. Next comes the menu, followed by an analysis and, where possible, several recipes from the menu.


  • Day-by-day essays with menus and recipes help students become a part of history
  • 50 period illustrations and halftones complement the text
  • A glossary of food terms and names of dishes will prove indispensable to readers and researchers
  • Numerous sidebars offer charming details about the meals presented
Janet Clarkson is a culinary historian and columnist in Australia. Her food blog is The Old Foodie.


"Janet Clarkson, a food historian and writer in Australia, has created a unique reference source that combines food with history. . . . Menus from History will be useful in both public and academic libraries for culinary students, historians, social scientists, and students doing reports."—ARBAonline, September 1, 2009

"Each entry has a name, description, significance, and menu and analysis, with the provenance authenticated on all but a small handful with a “best guess.” Since menus lend themselves nicely to an online environment, the ebook version of this work would present itself well in function and usability. BOTTOM LINE More comprehensive than The Food Timeline (—a free food history reference site...this is recommended for culinary institutions as well as school and public libraries."—Library Journal, October 15, 2009

"What did Jane Austen and Abraham Lincoln have for supper? What do menus teach us about people and the societies in which they lived? This work compiles 365 menus from 35 countries and from all sorts of historic occasions. Ranging from a Roman banquet in A.D. 70, to spaceship meals, to Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding celebration, the menus offer students and general readers a fun way to learn about significant events and cultures. Each menu includes a brief description of the original historic occasion, plus notes on the dishes and preparations, and instructions from period cookbooks. The book includes a glossary of food terms and names of dishes. To aid in finding specific items, menus are listed chronologically, by country, and by occasion."—Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2009

"Overall, the set is unique and interesting to read. It is of more interest as social history than as a cookbook and is recommended for libraries with cookery-history collections. It might also find a home in a public library where patrons seek out unusual menu and recipe ideas."—Booklist, December 15, 2009
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