A Historian’s Take

Cuisine and EmpireCuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History is my global story of how humans have turned plants and animals into the food that we eat (University of California Press, 2013).

International Association of Culinary Professionals, Culinary History Award, 2014

The Times Literary Supplement (London) described it as ”magnificent. Offers a compelling narrative of the rise and fall of the various culinary philosophies. . . a model example of ‘tertiary’ history, drawing together a vast range of specialized studies into a single story about global culinary geography . . . a radically counter-cultural vision of modern food politics.” (2013-12-20). Lydia Kiesling in The Millions says ”Wonderful . . . There is nothing argumentative or prescriptive about her book . . . but in our current American historical moment it seems breathtakingly transgressive . . .What I appreciate about Laudan is her perspective.” (2014-01-24).

To read a chapter, see more reviews, and to buy it, just click on the Cuisine and Empire tab.  To learn more about my take on food history and what it tells us about modern food politics, please check out my blog.



And what are my credentials to talk about food history and politics?  

  • A childhood that foodies dream about on our family farm in England where my mother cooked fruits and vegetables from the garden and we children carried the pail of raw milk from the dairy.
  • A Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from University College London and twenty five years teaching and publishing in universities in the United States.
  • Twenty years of research in food history, a pioneering hands-on food history course, and a prizewinning book. The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage.
  • Living on five different continents where I shopped, cooked, dined, and experimented.
Working on a Mexican metate

Learning to use a grindstone







Should you want more details of my academic career, like everyone who has passed through academia I have compiled my doings into that curious, obsessive art form known as my curriculum vitae.

The cover picture of Cuisine and Empire, by the way, is a woodcut by the Japanese artist Yoshikazu Utagawa, created ca. 1861, just a few years after the opening of Japan to the West. I chose it for two reasons.  It shows cooking and it illustrates the book’s theme that cuisines spread with expansive states or empires. The artist depicts the entry of Western cuisine to Japan with two big, bearded American men cooking on a bench stove and baking bread in a beehive oven. and cooking on a bench stove.