Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain (Paperback)Pen Vogler (author)
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Mapping the entwining paths of comestibles, culture and class, Vogler’s deliciously entertaining social history of food in Britain reveals how what we eat brings us together and sets us apart.
Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for August 2021
Avocado or beans on toast? Gin or claret? Nut roast or game pie? Milk in first or milk in last? And do you have tea, dinner or supper in the evening?
In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Covering such topics as fish and chips, roast beef, avocados, tripe, fish knives and the surprising origins of breakfast, Scoff reveals how in Britain we have become experts at using eating habits to make judgements about social background.
Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Number of pages: 480
Weight: 428 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 33 mm
'Sharp, rich and superbly readable... Vogler is sensitive to language, and she wields it brilliantly herself. Bons mot jostle with the kind of truth-skewering opinions that win reputations for restaurant critics... Ultimately, Vogler reveals why we eat what we do today - and it is fascinating.' - Sunday Times
'Utterly delicious... I can't remember the last time I read a food book so interesting and so lively... The range of Vogler's reading is extraordinary... She has cooked up a banquet, and everything on the table is worth tasting at least once.' - The Observer
'Taste in food, as Pen Vogler shows in this erudite yet lively compendium, is not just about preferred flavour, but what items in your shopping basket say about who you are or, more precisely, who you aspire to be... Scoff is full of such fascinating, intelligent dissections of familiar foods and culinary practices... Superb.' - Book of the Week' - The Times
'A terrific history, in bite-sized chunks, of how food and drink relates to social status.' - Book of the Week, The Guardian
'I loved it. It is a history and celebration of British food and eating habits and follows in the honourable tradition of Food in England by Dorothy Hartley, but is set in tone and content firmly in the 21st century.' - Monty Don
'With commendable appetite and immense attention to detail Pen Vogler skewers the enduring relationship between class and food in Britain. A brilliant romp of a book that gets to the very heart of who we think we are, one delicious dish at a time.' - Jay Rayner
'This excellent history is full of fascinating facts about the food we eat... More tellingly, it pricks the pomposity of many of our social conventions surrounding eating.' - Daily Mail
'A rich, persuasive diet of social friction, anecdotes and witty observation... It's a book to make the reader both think and salivate.' - Financial Times
'Pen Vogler's history of food in Britain is a feast of little dishes, all of them delicious... She has wise things to say about nation, health and, especially, class, and she even finds room for one or two recipes.' - Dominic Sandbrook, History Books of the Year, Sunday Times
'Pen Vogler provides a fascinating social history of British food through the centuries and throws in a selection of enticing recipes from the past for good measure.' - History Books of the Year, Daily Mail
'A superbly researched romp through food, cooking and class in Britain, looking at everything from brown bread versus white to the dangers of the dinner party. Full of history, Scoff is never heavy, thanks to Vogler's writing style and wit.' - Best Food Books of 2020, The Independent
'So utterly fascinating that I read it in great greedy gulps, like a novel. Vogler is incredibly good company as she dismantles pretty much every assumption we make about how we, and other people, eat.' - India Knigh, Sunday Times
'Always entertaining... Scoff shows how British people developed a very convoluted relationship to food.' - Sheila Dillon, Mail on Sunday
'In Scoff, Pen shows us an insight into the background of our favourite British food traditions through the divide of class. How a poor man's food moved to the posh dinner table and how British a curry really is. Illustrated by the words of much-loved English cookery writers and novelists, and Pen's own witty style of writing, this book is an absolute gem to read.' - Regula Ysewijn
'Fascinating... This is a pleasurable compilation, scholarly but not dry, with sharp imagery, quiet wit and lively personal stories.' - Clarissa Hyman, TLS
'Lively and detailed... Scoff is a pacy social history, exploring how foods have fallen in and out of favour and eating habits have moved between classes over centuries.' - New Statesman
'Sensational... An absolute feast.' - Tom Holland
'Excellent... A fun read... with some fabulous facts, tied together in an engaging and thought-provoking way.' - BBC History
'Vogler's book is a series of dazzling essays on subjects such as venison pasties, spices, Christmas pudding and Brussels sprouts. The learning and the range of references, from obscure Italian Renaissance texts to Bridget Jones, are astounding.' - Literary Review
'Has much to say about centuries of Britain's past and its place in the world, and the fact that it's peppered with historical recipes makes it all the more appealing.' - History Revealed
'Pen Vogler is a smart, waspish guide to our national cuisine and what it tells us about ourselves. In short, sharp essays, she looks at, among other things, the class status of avocados and the revolutionary status of vegetarianism. Her chapter on the social history of tea drinking is a particular delight.' - The Herald
'Scoff is an essential book about food. It unpacks the hamper of British food - not so much our spongy, milky puddings, our nursery food, our gut-busting breakfasts, but the meaning of what we eat... Astonishing to think that nobody has done this book before.' - Rachel Johnson, Air Mail
'Scoff is entertaining and thought provoking in equal measure - a thoroughly engaging read... It certainly made me reassess how I have viewed certain foods in the past.' - Sam Bilton
'The theme of this thoroughly enjoyable, lively and humorous book is how social class has influenced what, when and how we have eaten down the centuries... It is a story of constant change and a bewildering array of influences, inextricably woven into our national story.' - The Best Books About Food, Country & Town House
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“A perfect book for foodies and more ….”
This is a very clever book which shows us the history of class and social mobility in Britain through what we eat and why we eat it.
The topics covered are wide ranging; the origins of the names for meal times - tea,... More
“A cracking history of Britain and its food”
This is really addictive stuff. Vogler has a great, readable style that draws you in and his stories about the British relationship to its cuisine are eye-opening, funny and highly entertaining. I'd definitely... More
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