Foodie grand tour

Leafing through old cookery books can throw up a tasty mix of nostalgia and incredulity at the dishes we used to appreciate. Recipes and food photography of yesteryear can look amusingly dated.

But the visual representations of food and cookery go beyond cookery books. Food branding came into its own with industrialisation and the mass production of food, for example. A Visual History of Cookery, by Black Dog Publishing, delivers such images on a platter, exploring some iconic branding, from McDonalds to Ferran Adrià’s acclaimed El Bulli restaurant. In a melée of historical and contemporary images, different dishes and recipes, it gives an overview of culinary history in the US, England, Italy, Spain and France. Images include posters, menus and paintings, such as Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s series of portraits made from seasonal fruit, grains and vegetables. Posters of the two world wars, which promote the importance of eating economically and healthily, images charting the global spread of Italian cuisine, stereotypes of pizza, cheese and chilli associated with different countries, and food packaging through the ages are all featured. ‘I love some of the photographs, especially those of production lines in America in the 1920s,’ says editor Phoebe Adler. ‘The book is quite visually driven; it’s really exciting and vibrant.’ With contributions from AA Gill, Adrià, Anthony Bourdain and Alice Waters, it’s bound to whet the appetite of foodies, homemakers and designers.

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