A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment

A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment

by Stéphane Hénaut, Jeni Mitchell


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A French cheesemonger and an American academic join forces to serve up a sumptuous history of France and its food, in the delicious tradition of Anthony Bourdain, Peter Mayle, and Pamela Druckerman

Nearly 3 million Americans visit France every year, in addition to the more than 150,000 American expatriates who live there. Numerous bestselling books attest to American Francophilia, to say nothing of bestselling cookbooks, like those of Julia Child and Paula Wolfert. Now, husband-and-wife team Stephane Henaut and Jeni Mitchell give us the rich history behind the food—from Roquefort and absinthe to couscous and Calvados. The tales in A Bite-Sized History of France will delight and edify even the most seasoned lovers of food, history, and all things French.

From the crêpe that doomed Napoleon to the new foods borne of crusades and colonization to the rebellions sparked by bread and salt, the history of France—from the Roman era to modern times—is intimately entwined with its gastronomic pursuits. Traversing the cuisines of France’s most famous cities as well as its underexplored regions, this innovative culinary and social history includes travel tips; illustrations that explore the impact of war, imperialism, and global trade; the age-old tension between tradition and innovation; and the ways in which food has been used over the centuries to enforce social and political identities. A Bite-Sized History of France tells the compelling story of France through its food.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620972519
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 368,318
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Stéphane Hénaut ’s wide-ranging career in food includes working in the Harrods fromagerie , cooking for the Lord Mayor of London’s banquets, and selling obscure vegetables in a French fruiterie. He lives in Berlin.

Jeni Mitchell is a teaching fellow in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. She lives in Berlin.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Our Ancestors, the Gauls 5

2 The Virgin of the Kidney 10

3 Barbarians at the Plate 14

4 Ode to Gluttony 18

5 Left Behind: The Goats of Poitou 22

6 The Sweetest King 26

7 They Came from the Sea 31

8 Feudal Fare 37

9 Of Monks and Men 43

10 Fighting for Plums 49

11 The Wine That Got Away 55

12 The Vegetarian Heresy 61

13 A Papal Red 68

14 The White Gold of Guérande 73

15 Legacy of a Black Prince 78

16 The Vinegar of the Four Thieves 84

17 The Cheese of Emperors and Mad Kings 90

18 La Dame de Beauté and the Mushroom Mystery 94

19 Fruits of the Renaissance 99

20 The Mother Sauces 105

21 Conquest and Chocolate 110

22 The Culinary Contributions of Madame Serpent 116

23 A Chicken in Every Pot 122

24 The Chestnut Insurgency 128

25 The Bitter Roots of Sugar 134

26 The Liquor of the Gods 139

27 The Crescent Controversy 145

28 War and Peas 148

29 The Devil's Wine 153

30 An Enlightened Approach to Food 159

31 Revolution in the Cafés 163

32 Pain d'Égalité 169

33 The Potato Propagandist 174

34 The Pyramid Provocation 180

35 The Man Who Abolished the Seasons 186

36 The Fifth Crêpe 189

37 The King of Cheeses 193

38 A Revolutionary Banquet 197

39 The End of the Oyster Express 203

40 Revelation in a Bottle 210

41 The Curse of the Green Fairy 215

42 Siege Gastronomy 221

43 The Peanut Patrimony 228

44 Gastronomads on the Sun Road 233

45 A Friend in Difficult Hours 238

46 A Mutiny and a Laughing Cow 244

47 Bread, Peace, and Liberty": The Socialist Baguette 249

48 Couscous: The Assimilation (or Not) of Empire 254

49 The Forgotten Vegetables 262

50 Canon Kir Joins the Resistance 268

51 France and the United States: From Liberation to Exasperation 274

52 Conclusion 282

Acknowledgments 287

Bibliography 291

Notes 293

Index 321

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A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
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I like the idea of reciting history in the bite-sized concept. Combining history, wine and culinary, "A Bite-Sized History of France" uses an interesting way to retell the history. Overall a great read but there are few dull moments. It's great to read a chapter or two every day. The chapters are short and easy to understand. 3.5 star rating overall.
oldwarden More than 1 year ago
A fantastic way to learn history! Rather than another boring list of dates, people, and events, the authors take a completely different route. Use the deliciously wonderful foods of France to explain history! Why did the Romans consider the Germanic tribes barbarians? One big reason was because they cooked their food with butter, rather than olive oil! They also drank beer instead of wine. How uncouth! Did you know why soldiers called the Germans krauts? Because of their association with sauerkraut! Potatoes, honey, champagne, crepes....it's all in here, and tied to historical events. I only wish that I would have had this book when I was a student. How much more interesting history classes would have been!