Did you know that M&M’s were originally invented for the military? Did you know that battles were fought over cinnamon? Tanya Steel and National Geographic Kids have put together a fun book that teaches kids not only about food, but a bit of world history, geography and culture at the same time. The book is called Food Fight! A Mouthwatering History of Who Ate What and Why Through the Ages and it is being released on September 11, 2018.
I love books about food. There is so much that you can learn about people and cultures by understanding what they eat. Something special happens when people share a meal together. When the meals are from cultures other than their own, additional lessons are learned. You get a better understanding of a culture when you learn why they don’t eat certain foods, or why other foods are so important to them.
The book is organized in a chronological fashion starting with the prehistoric era and working itself toward the imagined future world. Each chapter focuses on a major period of world history – from Prehistoric cave-kids and Ancient Greece, to the present day and beyond – and examines politics, culture, class differences and economics as they are reflected in the cuisine du jour.
The book is highly visual, understandable given that it is from National Geographic Kids. Each chapter begins with a bite-size history lesson and tries to give readers a taste of what a day in the life was like back then. Common foods are discussed as well as kitchen tools (my personal favorite). Readers can see what a menu might be like in that time and see “by the numbers” what foods were consumed. A great aspect is that each chapter also features two recipes that were inspired by whatever period had just been discussed. The day my 7 year old started reading the book she announced that we had to make Marz Barz. But the recipes really do add a deeper understanding. During WWII there were a number of rations and people were encouraged to plant their own gardens. The recipe there? Victory Garden Soup.
Steel is a former editor at Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, former editorial director of Epicurious, Clean Plates and Gourmet.com, and an originator of “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ State Dinner” hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House. Steel was excited to bring her extensive experience and passion for food to this delicious romp through the ages.