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The Epicurean Collector: Exploring the World of Culinary Antiques    by Patrick Dunne & Editors Southern Accents order for
Epicurean Collector
by Patrick Dunne
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2002 (2002)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

This wonderful book holds a wealth of history in prose and photographs. I turned to the first page, expecting to focus on the pictures and read the captions. While I enjoyed both, I also found myself very much absorbed in the text. The Epicurean Collector is literally a treasure trove of culinary antiquity. Starting off with a history of cookbooks, it moves on to a discussion of stoves through time, and how iron tools were devised to help in the process of cooking .

Painters through the years have left us a valuable record of the tools used, both in the kitchen and at the table. The importance of blacksmiths is evident in the delicacy of some of the most utilitarian inventions. Condiments played a big role in the history of food and its preparation. We learn that the word 'salary' comes from the Latin 'salaria' and derives from the practice of paying laborers with salt. The story of salt is fascinating, as is the story of sugar.

While describing the world's appreciation of a good cup of tea, Dunne bemoans that 'A cup of tea, like love or a good cigar, takes time, and time is what we have left behind.' The account of the introduction of cutlery is worth reading - fascinating. The author continues with a section on 'napery', linens used at the table. After a discussion on the beginnings of restaurants - the first probably in the 1760s - Dunne closes his magnificent book with a flourish, choosing menus as a suitable ending.

Patrick Dunne is well qualified to write this book. He is the proprietor of Lucullus, an antiques store in New Orleans specializing in culinary arts. He has done Ph.D. work in interdisciplinary cultural history and writes a column 'The Epicurean Collector' for Southern Accents. This book is well written with a touch of humor by an erudite man who knows his subject well. The Epicurean Collector would make a marvelous gift for the chef in your life, and would look elegant on your own coffee table.

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