by Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell
From the publisher: “The complex political, historical, religious and social factors that shaped some of [France’s] . . . most iconic dishes and culinary products are explored in a way that will make you rethink every sprinkling of fleur de sel.” —The New York Times Book Review
Acclaimed upon its hardcover publication as a “culinary treat for Francophiles” (Publishers Weekly), A Bite-Sized History of France is a thoroughly original book that explores the facts and legends of the most popular French foods and wines. Traversing the cuisines of France’s most famous cities as well as its underexplored regions, the book is enriched by the “authors’ friendly accessibility that makes these stories so memorable” (The New York Times Book Review). This innovative social history also explores the impact of war and imperialism, the age-old tension between tradition and innovation, and the enduring use of food to prop up social and political identities.
The origins of the most legendary French foods and wines—from Roquefort and cognac to croissants and Calvados, from absinthe and oysters to Camembert and champagne—also reveal the social and political trends that propelled France’s rise upon the world stage. As told by a Franco-American couple (Stéphane is a cheesemonger, Jeni is an academic) this is an “impressive book that intertwines stories of gastronomy, culture, war, and revolution. . . . It’s a roller coaster ride, and when you’re done you’ll wish you could come back for more” (The Christian Science Monitor).
Stéphane Hénaut’s wide-ranging career in food includes working in the Harrods fromagerie, cooking for the Lord Mayor of London’s banquets, and selling obscure vegetables in a French fruiterie. He lives in Berlin.
Jeni Mitchell is a teaching fellow in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. She lives in Berlin.
The New Press, 2019