...[a] joyously delicious account of Britain’s gastronomic influence on the world ... original and supremely captivating ... In British terms, she is Henry Mayhew and Mass-Observation rolled into one — a stellar observer of the day-to-day and the mundane, a social historian of extraordinary talent ... From such lavish depictions we derive with infinite pleasure a pointilliste picture of the world’s food economy in all its magical complexity.
...an energetic and refreshing account of a little considered aspect of British history. By examining what people ate, Collingham skilfully provides a full account of complex, even chaotic international connections ... It’s hard to think of a more ingenious way of treating imperial history ... This book’s treatment of food in the empire is innovative and exciting; to bring such vibrancy to an old topic is a remarkable achievement.
In this book, which is as thick as a double-cut pork chop, the author sees trade in sugar, spice, rice and tea as the reason the British were so keen to command sea routes dating from the 16th century … The result is the stuff of lively cocktail party conversation among the geekiest food lovers, right down to the occasional recipe for mock turtle, rum punch and (Hello, Bridget Jones!) leftover-turkey curry … Collingham devotes fewer pages to food and empire in Britain’s modern times, understandably. Her thesis is not so easily sustained in the Brexit era.