Rachel Laudan


Most of my articles on food history and a selection of the articles on history of science are also available here.


Review of James D. La Fleur,  Fusion Foodways of Africa’s Gold Coast in the Atlantic Era (2012) and Francesca Bray, et al. Rice: Global Networks and New Histories (2015) in Journal of World History, 28, 2 (2017).

“Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes.” Review of Charles Spence, Gastrophysics (2017). Wall Street Journal, 06/24/17.

“Hawaii, ” in America: The Cookbook (Phaidon, 2017).

“Setting a Table for 200 Million,” Review of Lizzie Collingham, The Taste of Empire (2017). Wall Street Journal, 09/29/17.


Home-Grown Cuisines or Naturalized Cuisines? The History of Food in Hawaii and Hawaii’s Place in Food History,  Food Culture and Society, 2016. Reprinted in Hi’iei Hobart, ed. The Foodways of Hawaii: Past and Present (London: Routledge, 2018).

  • Why I wrote a book on Hawaii’s food, how that led to a world history, and some reflections on cuisines in general.

“The Most Democratic Food.” Review of Louise Fresco, Hamburgers in Paradise (Princeton, 2016). Wall Street Journal 01/05/2016.

“The Glory of Goulash: A Culinary Rags-to-Riches Story,” Smithsonian Journeys: The Danube, Summer 2016. Reprinted in Smithsonian Journeys: Atlas of Eating, April 2017.

Review of Andrew Coe and Janet Ziegelman, A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression (2016). Wall Street Journal 08/17/2016. 

“In Praise of Artificial Food,” Aeon, January 28, 2016.


“Dining with Darius: The Persian Kitchen and the Spread of Empire,” Cairo Review, 18 (2015), 78-84.

Review of Michael Blake, Maize for the gods: Unearthing the 9,000-Year History of Corn (University of California Press, 2015), and Deborah Toner, Alcohol and Nationhood in Nineteenth-Century Mexico (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), Times Literary Supplement, October 2, 2015.

Review of Maria Saria Gaytán, TEQUILA! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico, Times Literary Supplement, May 15, 2015.

“Sweets,” Saudi Aramco World Calendar, 2015.

“Mexican Sweets,” “Convent Sweets,” “Agave Nectar,” “Tres Leches Cake,” “Sugar Plantations,” Oxford Companion to Sweets (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)


Review of Paula E. Morton, Tortillas: A Cultural History (University of New Mexico Press, 2014), Times Literary Supplement, October 10, 2014

“Crossroads and Diasporas: 1000 Years of Islamic Cuisine,” Saudi Aramco World, November/December 2014, 26-36.


Introduction.” Mary Sia’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. Fourth edition. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013), xi-xviii.

  • In 1956, Mary Sia published her second cookbook with the University of Hawaii Press. Her first, Chinese Chopsticks, had been published in English in Beijing in 1935. Born to professional Chinese parents in Honolulu, Mary Sia married Dr Richard Sia and travelled with him to Beijing where she taught Chinese cooking and led tours of restaurants. When the Japanese invaded they returned to Hawaii. An introduction to this cross-cultural life and the use of cooking to negotiate boundaries.


Essay Review. Evan D. Fraser and Andrew Rimas, Empires of Food (New York: Free Press, 2010).  Gastronomica (Spring 2012), 113-114.


“Afterword.”  Food Globality and Foodways Localities. Special Issue of Food and Foodways, ed. Carolyn de la Peña and Benjamin Lawrance. Enlarged version. 2011.


“UNESCO in the culinary heritage business,” Op-Ed, LA Times, 1 November 2010.

Review, Leslie Brubaker and Kallirroe Linardou eds. Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Food and Wine in Byzantium (Ashgate, UK: Society of the Promotion of Byzantine Studies) in Food, Culture and Society (2010).

Review, Paul Freedman, ed. Food: The History of Taste (University of California Press, 2007), Gastronomica 9.2 (Spring, 2010), 210-11.

“Ten Things Culinary Historians Can Learn from Historical Linguists,” Food and Language: Proceedings of the 2009 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery,  (Devon, UK: Prospect Books, 2010),     .


 “Refined Cuisine or Plain Cooking? The Moral Dilemma of the Kitchen,” in Susan Friedlander, ed., Food and Morality: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 2008), 154-161.

“Food in World History: Six Proposals,” World History Bulletin XXIV (2008), 4-8.

Ricardo Muñoz’s Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Gastronomía Mexicana, Saveur 100, 2008.

“A Peripatetic Food Historian Finds a Roost in Mexico,” Kitchenwise, Saveur, April, 2008.


Preface, Cristiana Couto, Arte de Cozinha. Alimentacao e dietética em Portugal e no Brasil (séculos XVII-XIX) (Sao Paulo: Senac, 2007).


 “Semitas, Semitic Bread and the Search for Community: A Culinary Detective Story,” Moving Worlds. Food, Culture and Community 6 (2005), 106-115. Semitas, Semitic Bread, and the Search for Community. A longer version,  Semitas.

  • Were semitas, a bread found on the US-Mexico border, specifically Jewish? No.

“El Bajio,” Ignacio Urquiza: Una Sabrosa Historia de 30 Años (Mexico, 2005), 79-80.

“The Servant Problem,” Prandial Post: Food History Committee Newsletter, IACP, 3, 5-7.

Chilaquiles, Mexico’s Comfort Food Mexico Insights (Jan 2005).


“The Mexican Kitchen’s Islamic Connection,” Saudi Aramco World (2004), 32-39. Spanish translation, Mosaica, Panama (2006).The Mexican Kitchen’s Islamic Connection, illustrated by leading  Mexican photographer, Nacho (Ignacio) Urquiza.

  • Why do Mexican moles resemble Indian curries?

Slow Food: The French Terroir Strategy, and Culinary Modernism,” Food, Culture and Society 7 (2004), 133-144.


“We Never Ate Mexican Food,” Repast: Quarterly Newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor 9 (2003), 1-3.

Essay Review of Near a Thousand Tables by Félipe Fernández-Armesto, Gastronomica (Winter 2003).

(with Jeanelle Kam) “Celebrating a Hawaiian Luau,” Petits Propos Culinaires (2003) 74, 39-44.

For a meeting of the International Association of Culinary Professionals in Puebla, Mexico I put together a booklet, Puebla in the Global Gastronomic Geography (pdf), to explain why Puebla is the epicenter of Mexican cooking.


“Fruits of the Oven,” Simple Cooking 78 (2002), 1,7.

“A Physician in the Kitchen: Doctors and the Evolution of the Western Diet,” Helix: Amgen’s Magazine of Biotechnology 11 (2002), 48-55.”


“A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love Fast, New, Processed Food,” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, charter issue, 2001, 36-44.  (2001).Reprinted in Bonnie Marranca, ed. Slice of Life (Free Press, 2003); Darra Goldstein, ed. The Gastronomica Reader (San Francisco and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010); Utne Reader, September 2010.  Excerpted as NY Times Blog “Idea of the Day, August, 2010; also in SFWeekly, Andrew Sullivan, etc.; reprinted in Hoja Santa, December, 2014; Jacobin, May, 2015, Turkish, Croatian, and Italian journals. Reprinted in Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter, eds. Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing (Norton, 2015). Reprinted with new afterword in Charles Ludington, ed. Food Fights (UNC Press, 2018).

  • A plea for culinary modernism, a hymn to the virtues of modern food.

Desperately Seeking Authenticity,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 19, 2001.

Essay Review, The Cambridge World History of Food, ed. Kenneth Kiple and Kriemheld Conneé Ornelas, Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 1 (2001), 104-106.


Birth of the Modern Diet,” Scientific American, August 2000, vol 238, 62-67. Multiple translations. Reprinted in Scientific American Reports: Special Edition on Diet and Health, Vol. 16, Number 4, 4-11; “The Science of Food,” Scientific American, Summer 2015, 64-71.

  • Why did Western (or French) High Cuisine appear so suddenly in the mid seventeenth century.


“Fresh from the Cow’s Nest: Condensed Milk and Culinary Innovation,” Milk: Beyond the Dairy. Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 1999 (Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 2000).

“The Origins of Chinese Pasta,” Flavor and Fortune (Summer, 2000), 5-6.


A Kind of Chemistry (pdf): The Origins of Modern French Food,” Petits Propos Culinaires 62 (1999), 8-22.

  • Why did French cuisine appear suddenly in the middle of the seventeenth century?

“Hawaii,” “Mexico” and “Creole Food” in Alan Davidson, Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Chiles, Chocolate and Race in New Spain: Glancing Backward to Spain or Looking Forward to Mexico,” (with Jeffrey Pilcher), Eighteenth Century Life 23 (1999), 59-70.

  • How the Spanish hung on to their food in the colonial period.


 “Going Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Food or the People? Hawaii and Loss by Migration.” Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 1994. Ed. Harlan Walker, Totnes, Devon: Prospect Books, 1995.







7 thoughts on “Articles

  1. kate rohrbach

    Hi Rachel – I admire your work! I am trying to follow the chili pepper from the Old World to its adoption as a key flavoring in Sichuan cuisine — alongside ancient sichuan pepper. How and why it happened…. I have sources on trade, likely trade routes, some cultivation, speculation on its serious culinary adoption in the 19th c …as a migration with chefs from Hunan. etc. But I haven’t found anything ‘definitive’, nor enough detail on the possibilities. I wonder if you have any ideas (i would credit, of course). This is for a grad school paper, not publication! Feel free to ignore this if it’s just beyond your interest or patience!
    Many thx, Kate

    1. Rachel Laudan

      Kate, Thanks for the vote of confidence. You are taking on one of the great mysteries of food history. And your instinct to look to trade routes has to be right. I have no hidden bibliographic references to offer. And it would be insulting to suggest that you don’t know obvious sources–Fuschia Dunlop and Sucheta Mazumdar. What strikes me more and more as I dig in to culinary history is that cuisines (whole packages of thinking about and making food) shape what we eat. So the chile had to fit into these structures. I suppose that is the way I would think about it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Feel free to contact me off list.

  2. Adam Balic

    Kate – on thing to consider is what food item the chile replaced or replicated. In India (and in Europe)New World chile replaced “pipli” (long pepper) for a whole variety of reasons. Or if people have a pre-existing taste for a flavour then they tend to adopt other similar flavors. Chile added to Sichuan pepper makes would work for instance.

  3. Ji-Young Park

    To echo Adam…

    According to The Book of Kimchi (published by The Korea Information Service, editors and contributors are all professors)

    “Even before red chili pepper was introduced, leaf mustard of a violet color, cockscomb and safflower were used to give kimchi a delightful red color. Koreans put a special value on the color red…”

  4. Pingback: Episode 44: Historically Thinking Eats with Rachel Laudan :: Historically Thinking

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