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205 × 130 × 5 mm
144 pages
53 illustrations, 31 in colour
01 Apr 2010

Cake A Global History Nicola Humble

Let them eat cake! What birthday, wedding or children’s party would be complete without it? It is the ultimate food of celebration in many cultures throughout the world, but how did it come to be so? Cake: A Global History explores the origin of modern cake and its development from sweet bread to architectural flight of fancy, together with the meanings, legends and rituals attached to cake throughout the world.

Nicola Humble reviews the many national differences in cake-making techniques and customs – the French, for example, have the gâteau 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’s Great Expectations, Humble also relates the food’s place in literature, art and film, and what it can symbolize: 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.

‘I had been awaiting Nicola Humbles Cake: A Global History with as much anticipation as a warm Dundee cake coming out of the oven on a winter's afternoon. A mere 150 pages in length and the colour of creamed butter and sugar, this is the story of cake and its place in our history, its myths, legends and folklore . . . I have found it as difficult to put down as a slice of village-fête chocolate cake.’ — Nigel Slater, The Observer

‘I thought I should refresh my knowledge of cake, and bought the splendidly named Cake: A Global History. What a revelation! I now feel less embarrassed by my own long-standing obsession with the subject . . . I really have learnt a lot about cakes this week. If you, too, are inquisitive about this delectable foodstuff, then I can thoroughly recommend Humbles little study.’ — Daily Telegraph

‘This small book was a lot like a good slice of cake to me, because when I finished it I wished there were more.’ — Times Higher Education

‘These are food memoirs, salacious and exotic, colorful, powdered, sweet, greasy and globe-trotting . . . sharp and speedy little reads, spotted with off-kilter illustrations’ — Chicago Tribune

‘I devoured this volume in one sitting’ — Text Journal of Writing

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Nicola Humble is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. She is the author of Culinary Pleasures: Cook Books and the Transformation of British Food, as well as Victorian Heroines: Representations of Femininity in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Art.

Introduction: When is a Cake not a Cake?

1  Cakes through History
2  Cakes around the World
3  The Culture of Baking Cake
4  The Rituals and Symbolism of Cake
5  Literary Cakes
6  Postmodern Cakes

Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements