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The Oxford Companion to Food, Food: A Culinary History

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Sure to separate mere food enthusiasts from true fanatics, these two books provide an overstuffed feast of information, some fascinating, some just plain weird. Who knew that ”salamander” is a verb, indicating the browning of a dish, or that prairie dogs have a ”slightly earthy taste” (Oxford)? Or that crane was considered aristocratic fare during the Middle Ages (Culinary History)? Oxford is organized alphabetically, like a dictionary; Culinary History is chronological. So if you have to choose between them, go with the former, just in case you need to look up ”musk ox” in a hurry. Oxford: A- Culinary History: B+