Rachel Laudan



If you are interested in how food and culture have evolved in tandem, then you might enjoy this site.  Let me explain a bit about my work.

My Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (2013) is a comprehensive history of food and culture from the first states to today.

The New York Review of Books praised it as “an exposition as lucid as it is authoritative [which] gives deserved prominence to a long-neglected theme in world history . . . a triumph, pointing the way to a wholly new kind of historiography.” Japanese, Chinese (both mainland and Taiwan), and Korean translations have already appeared and a Spanish one is forthcoming.

My blog is the place where I pursue specific issues in more detail.

As a historian, I have concluded that never have such a large proportion of humans enjoyed such healthful and tasty food, a case I made in “A Plea for Culinary Modernism: Why We Should Love Fast, New, Processed Food” first published in 2001 and widely reprinted in the past twenty years in publications across the political spectrum.

In 2018, I was honored to receive the Paradigm Award of the Breakthrough Institute “in recognition of the progressive story I tell about food and farming.” The Award is given annually for “accomplishment and leadership in the effort to make the future secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling for all the world’s inhabitants on an ecologically vibrant planet.”

I regularly appear on television, radio, and in print media. I review for the Wall Street Journal and the Times Literary Supplement. I have acted as expert witness, editorial and museum board member, consultant, and Scholar in Residence for the International Association of Culinary Professionals. And I am a frequent speaker, keynoting events hosted by culinary, academic, and business organizations.

Currently I am Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Rachel Grinding Pineapple

Prior to turning to food, I had a successful academic career as a historian and philosopher of science and technology (CV Rachel Laudan 2016).

I have lived for extended periods of time on five different continents, giving me the chance to experience many of the world’s cuisines in their places of origin. A childhood on a working farm in southern England where we grew wheat and barley and had a large dairy provided me with a down-to-earth sense of what it takes to produce the raw materials of food.

At the moment, I am deep into a project on who owns land and how it is inherited.




The lovely image of Egyptian grains in the header is thanks to Dina Said, CC Attribute Share-Alike, 4.0 International.

12 thoughts on “About

  1. Joanne Dai

    Hi Rachel!I’m so excited to find your book inadvertently. Delicious food will bring people great satisfaction to mind, and what even more striking is the changes and integration of food development by historical development. Although I just read the first two pages of you book Cuisine and Empire, the next content is so fascinated to me. However, It’s so pity for me lacking the chapter of China. Since the Zhou dynasty of slavery society was destroyed, China had been experiencing the ethnic fusion and migration. Even along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, people of different provinces have great differences on food. I’m now having a trip in Hainan and am interested in a kind of food named Zaopocu for characterizing evident geographical fusion. I’m expected to complete reading of your book as soon as possible and try to treat Chinese food from your original point of view. Mostly, I’m looking forward to meet you in China if there is possible you come to collect the relative materials :D

    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Joanne, Thank you for your kind words. And I think as you go through the book you will find much on China in the different chapters. I look forward to hearing your reaction.

      1. Joanne Dai

        That must be an interesting clue to mix China in the different chapters :P. After sending you my thought, I dreamed of you last night. And it’s really a sweet dream :D

  2. Gretchen DeWitt

    A question: In your book there is a photo of three cooking pots from Oaxaca and Puebla. What age would you assign to the one that looks most like a fat boot? Was recently given one by someone who doesn´t know age or value. I would like to donate this item to a charity auction and would love to have an idea of what value to give to it and age. Can you help? Thank you. Gretchen DeWitt p.s. lovely book!

    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Hello Gretchen. I don’t have a photo of cooking pots from Oaxaca in my book so I am bit puzzled to know how to respond to this. The fat boot shape is very common and I think has been made over a long period of time.

  3. Matt

    I stumbled across your “Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History” and have found it fascinating. Thanks for writing such an enjoyable and informative book! I’d be curious as to what you think of the Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisines…which I grew up eating down in New Orleans. Anyway, great book and I’ll look up more by you.

  4. Kelly A Damzyn

    I bought a metate and pestle at an estate sale an hour from the mexican boarder. How would i know if it is old or knew? I am thinking of selling it but have no idea how much to ask for it. I paid $25 for it.

  5. Irishbuzz.com

    Rachel, we’ve been following your explorations in all their breadth and colour. Those pertaining to our own particular focus, Irish food culture & history, have been especially appreciated. If you have a newsletter or similar, please add our humble blog to the mailing list – lest we miss an article. Keep up the good work!

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