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December 31 , 2008

The Curiosities of Food

Or the Dainties and Delicacies of Different Nations Obtained from the Animal Kin gdom


Originally published in London in 1859, this rare treasure of culinary history was recently brought to light in the award-winning Oxford Companion to Food, whose author, Alan Davidson, used it as a primary reference in researching some of the more obscure foodstuffs consumed across the globe. Davidson writes that "[CURIOSITIES] is in all probability the first attempt to write a general worldwide survey of animal products." Long out of print and scarce even in the antiquarian market, this lost classic of wit, erudition, and grand storytelling is now made available in a facsimile edition, with an introduction by Davidson. As Simmonds reveals in his charming culinary travelogue, just about everything that walks, swims, crawls, slithers, or flies has been eaten at one time or another, and the eminent Victorian scholar has the tasting notes. On lizards: "In Guatemala, there is a popular belief, that lizards eaten alive cure cancer. . . . The man who first eat a live oyster or clam, was certainly a venturous fellow, but the eccentric individual who allowed a live lizard to run down his throat was infinitely more so." • One of the most important works of culinary history from the nineteenth century, and a significant primary source for Alan Davidson's award-winning Oxford Companion to Food.
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