Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: The Kitchen, Food, and Cooking in Reformation Germany

The Kitchen, Food, and Cooking in Reformation Germany

Volker Bach

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
ISBN: 1442251271

Available from:

My German is terrible. Don't get me wrong, I love languages and am always willing to try, but too many years of French and Latin and even Russian have permanently screwed my accent up to where any of the stock German phrases I have memorized are sure to make native speakers assume I'm talking in Klingon.

My ability with written German isn't much better, so when I want to know anything about the food history of Germany I turn to people like Volker Bach for help. His English translations of medieval German cookbooks are a mainstay of medieval re-enactment cooks and food researchers. So you can imagine how my ears perked up when I heard he was publishing a book on German food history.

Culinary history books are a tricky thing. They run from translations of centuries-old texts to fanciful speculations on the minutiae of kitchen work. Opening this book, I was greeted with something special. Instead of including only information on 16th century German dishes or cooking practices, Volker Bach provides the social, political, and economic context along with how it related to the food. He treats the subject of German cuisine as a complete system that can be better understood by examining the culture that created it. What's more, his clear and fluid writing style kept all that history from being dry and dusty.

Well researched, packed with information, and still pleasant to read - this book is a excellent resource for anyone interested in German food history.