Cake: A Global History

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A particularly strong chapter is the one about cake in literature, as might be expected from Delightful romp through the creation of cake both as a foodstuff and a cultural icon, from what is a cake anyway and what makes cake different from bread or biscuits, to the symbolic role of cakes at rituals and rites of passage. A particularly strong chapter is the one about cake in literature, as might be expected from a professor of English literature.

The book is also very nicely illustrated. Just one thing that I thought was missing was a few more references to cake in film. There are two movie stills used as illustrations but perhaps there could have been a few more examples of how making cakes have been used a plot devices or to reveal character. I'm thinking of the scene in Bridesmaids when the lead character makes a single, perfect, elaborately decorated cupcake which she then scoffs herself, alone.

I guess other movies are more focused on pies, such as Mildred Pierce using her pies to create a successful business and Waitress, where Jenna's pies are a form of self-expression. Perhaps surprisingly there's also the role of white cake in Tarantino's Django, where the cake represents the decadence of the South; a luxury item furnished to the privileged thanks to a system built on unbearable cruelty and horror.

As well as the history and culture there are also a few recipes at the end for some very singular traditional cakes. Well worth a read if you like baking; informative and charming.

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Jul 16, Tara Brabazon rated it it was amazing. One of the best books I have read this year.

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The writing is clear, concise, evocative and engaging. The research is carefully considered and presented. While a loose chronological narrative is deployed, there is both depth and density to the analysis.


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The complex nature of 'the cake' - as a definition distinct from breads and biscuits - is demonstrated, alongside the changes in its history. The chapter on 'postmodern cakes' was short and can be the basis of future research. Terrific and inspiratio One of the best books I have read this year. Terrific and inspirational, this is a fine book. Read it. Jan 14, Jenne rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction.

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View 1 comment. Jun 10, Dustincecil rated it liked it. Feb 23, Lol rated it really liked it.

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As enjoyable as a slice of cake. Interesting historical notes. Good references to literary mentions and briefly of contemporaries - Nigella, Martha, Magnolia. Justin Wong rated it it was amazing Jan 05, William Paley rated it it was ok Aug 23, Abbie rated it really liked it Sep 02, Sheila rated it liked it May 03, Jeri rated it it was ok May 15, Angie M rated it it was amazing Sep 29, Leah Baas rated it really liked it May 27, Jean Moats rated it it was amazing Jan 22, Click here for a special, limited-time offer for the entire Edible series.


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Table of Contents. Introduction: When is a Cake not a Cake? Printed on heavy, rich stock with drawings and color photos, they are an appetizing bunch. The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader blog. Food and Gastronomy. Twitter Tweets by ChicagoDistrib. RSS Feed. Let them eat cake! What birthday, wedding, bar mitzvah or children's party would be complete without it?

Cake : a global history

It is the ultimate food of celebration in many cultures throughout the world, but how did it come to be so? Nicola Humble reviews the many national differences in cake-making techniques and customs the French, for example, have the gateau Paris-Brest, named after the cycle race and designed to imitate the form of a bicycle wheel; in America there is New England's Election Day cake or the Southern favourite, Lady Baltimore cake and what they reveal about the nations that make them.

From Proust's madeleine to Miss Havisham's decaying wedding cake, the symbol of her betrayal in Dickens' "Great Expectations", Humble also relates the food's place in literature, art and film, and what it can symbolize and illustrate: indulgence, gender, motherhood and guilt. With a large selection of mouthwatering images, "Cake" will appeal to the many readers with an interest in food history, social, cultural, literary and art history or, indeed, just in cake.

Added to basket. Albert Jack. The Taste of War. Lizzie Collingham. Ken Albala. The End of Overeating. David Kessler. Philip Lymbery. Diane Toops. Eating for England. Nigel Slater. Marc Millon.


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