10 Amazing Books on Food History from Jeffrey Pilcher

As you know, we love talking about the intersection of food and culture, in all its wonderful (and sometimes bizarre) forms. Last week we looked at some of the greatest food still lifes in art history, and earlier this month, we were aglow in anticipation of Lawrence Norfolk’s first novel in 12 years, John Saturnall’s Feast, a 17th century upstairs-downstairs love story inspired by food’s more seductive powers. Now we’re taking a turn into the academic, yet equally enthralling (not to mention mouth-watering) genre of food history with the help of Jeffrey Pilcher, author of next month’s Planet Taco.

As you probably guessed, Pilcher’s latest book focuses on the history of the taco, but being the equal food opportunist that he is, Pilcher kindly shared a list of personal reading recommendations sure to interest anyone who enjoys history and/or eating in general. The following books, he told us, “will reveal the amazing history of food over five thousand years.” Click through for Pilcher’s list, which take us all the way from ancient Mesopotamia to the so-called “Golden Age of Food Processing,” and then, onward, to the future (yes, that would be the Jetson’s meal-in-a-pill, future). And if south-of-the-border is your fancy, we recommend his book, which will forever change the way you look at Mexico’s national cuisine, not to mention give you some great anecdotes next time you make a Chipotle run with your pals.

The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia, Jean Bottéro

Jean Bottéro’s social history of food in ancient Mesopotamia reveals that master chefs and snooty diners have been with us since the beginning of written history. For adventurous cooks, the book also includes recipes, translated from cuneiform tablets, for such delicacies as gazelle broth and pigeon baked in pastry.