Fun and Fast Facts About Food

May 28, 2020 | M. Elwood

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I'm isolating alone but I expect that those of you hunkering down with other people may be in need of new things to talk about.  

Never fear, these books are full of interesting dinner conversation starters.

All are available as ebooks. 

Curious history

Curious History of Food and Drink by Ian Crofton

How and what did people eat and drink in the past? Ian Crofton has used old journals and cookbooks to find out. Fun fact: Cacao trees have been cultivated since 1400. An unsweetened beverage called Xocoatl, the Mayan word meaning bitter water, was revered by society's elite but Spanish missionary José de Acosta described it as "loathsome" and "unpleasant" when he tried it in the 16th century. 



The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread by Susan Russo

Sandwiches are not too complicated. Stick something edible between two slices of bread and you're done, right? This book will help you take your sandwich game to a whole other level with new ideas for both the inside and outside of your sandwich. The book includes recipes for more than 100 sandwiches but beyond that includes information about each sandwich's origins and regional adaptations. 


Fast food and junk food

Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love to Eat by Andrew F. Smith

This A-Z reference book includes entries for specific snacks (PopTarts! Pringles! Three Musketeers!), companies (McDonald's! 7-Eleven!, Tim Hortons!) and types of food (pizza! yogurt! croissants!) but also takes a look at the serious side of the foods we love – anti-unionization, food borne illnesses and Genetically Modified Food.


Foodie facts

Foodie Facts: A Food Lover's Guide to America's Favorite Dishes from Apple Pie to Corn on the Cob by Ann Treistman

Fun fact: French fries are actually Belgian, where they have been made since the 17th century. They were enjoyed by American soldiers stationed in Northern Europe during WWI. They enjoyed them so much they lost track of where they were. This book combines facts like this with recipes.


How the hotdog found its bun

How the Hot Dog Found its Bun: Accidental Discoveries and Unexpected Inspirations that Shape what we Eat and Drink by Josh Chetwynd

This book has great stories about how the food we know came into existence. For example: Graham Crackers were invented in the early 1800s by Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham. Graham believed that a bland vegetarian diet with limited dairy, and no spices or white flour, would lead to the end of lustful behaviour. 


Much depends on dinner

Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser

Anthropologist Visser deconstructs a simple meal (roast chicken, rice, corn, salad and ice cream) writing a micro-history for each ingredient considering its role in culture, politics, labour and industry around the world. 


What fun food facts do you know? Share in the comments!