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197 × 120 × 16 mm
160 pages
55 illustrations, 47 in colour
01 Sep 2011

Bread A Global History William Rubel

What food is more basic, more essential and more universal than bread? Common to the diets of both rich and poor, bread is one of our oldest foods. Loaves and rolls have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and excavated from ovens in Pompeii that were buried when Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. From the sixteenth-century English peasants’ bread made with pea flour and rye, to the grain-wasting, pure white bread of the French court, from the crusty sourdough loaf made by artisan bakers to the doughy ‘sliced white’ found in every supermarket, there is a bread for every time and place in history.

William Rubel takes us on a journey to discover breads around the world, from Mexican pan dulce to French baguettes and German pumpernickel, and shows how the kind of bread you eat reveals who you are. He also describes the techniques of bread-making, from ancient recipes leavened with brewers’ yeast to the factory-made sandwich loaf. Containing a glossary of over one hundred different breads from around the world, Bread will be an inspiration for all bakers, as well as anyone who enjoys a simple slice.

‘In discussing bread one can find oneself talking about some of the largest issues of history and society, as William Rubel notes in his sprightly primer . . . [he] is well versed in early history and archaeology . . . engaging as well as controversial.’ — Wall Street Journal

‘Through Rubel’s eyes, this seemingly simple category of food - a side to any dish and vehicle for any topping - tells a cultural history of humans from the center of the table . . . Rubel clearly has a deep fascination for the world of bread, and will give a taste of that same fascination to readers.’ — New City Lit

‘A cute 150 page history of baking, from Mesopotamia to the present. I'd put it around National Geographic magazine in terms of how entertaining and scholarly it is. Somewhere in the middle, neither too light nor total fluff.’ — The Fresh Loaf

Bread: A Global History is an informative and light-hearted book about our staff of life. The book is slender to the hand, but packed with history, facts, and stories . . . fascinating’ — In Mama's Kitchen

‘The Edible Series contains some of the most delicious nuggets of food and drink
history ever. Every volume is such a fascinating and succinct read that I had to devour each in just a single sitting . . . food writing at its best!’ — Ken Hom, chef and author 

‘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

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William Rubel is a freelance food historian and the author of The Magic of Fire: Cooking on the Open Hearth (2002).


1. The Early History of Bread
2. Bread as a Social Marker
3. Parameters of Taste
4. World of Bread: An Eccentric Travelogue
5. Bread in the Twenty-first Century

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