Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6¼ x 9½
978-1-4422-5227-1 • Hardback • October 2016 • $47.00 • (£36.00)
978-1-4422-5228-8 • eBook • October 2016 • $44.50 • (£34.00)
Fiona Ross, like most of us, leads a double existence: in her ‘normal’ life as a writer of fiction in Bishop’s Stortford, U.K., Fiona keeps company with two bossy chickens and her dog, Parsnip. She spends a lot of time fishing chickens out of her bathtub and Parsnip out of the chicken run. In between, she stares into space a lot looking for inspiration for her stories. Meanwhile, her glamorous and exciting double works as a gastro-detective whose headquarters are the famous Bodleian Library in Oxford; she spends her time there pondering which sandwich filling she would prefer for lunch when she is not hot on the trail of a famous gastronome. The Dining with Destiny series is the result of just such weighty thoughts – oh, and a short-term memory problem which means that Fiona can never recall anything important like the date of a war or how to hoover, but can always be counted upon to remember how much jam Marx liked on his tarts. Time will tell which is the more important.
The superrich have the same needs to feed themselves as do the poorest peasants. But what they eat and in whose company they do it make for very different experiences. Ross has plumbed the depths of the Bodleian Library to document the eating (and mating) habits of luminaries and royals from ancient Rome to the present. Bursting with the juiciest morsels of gossip, Ross recounts meals consumed by famous and notorious characters. Aristotle Onassis’ marriages were to women who had food issues Maria Callas’ compulsive eating and Jackie Kennedy’s hungers for both food and affection. Royals and wannabes, from the Windsors to Grace Kelly to Nicholas II, were prone to the most idiosyncratic eating habits. The kitchens of Hugh Hefner’s renowned Playboy Mansion attracted guests almost as much as his notorious bunnies. In addition to her breezy text, Ross offers many recipes favored by these celebrities. An interesting choice for food microhistory fans.
Fiona Ross serves as our personal historical guide as we romp through the joyous time when royalty filled their dining tables with culinary delights with no expense spared. Each page jostles a smile as you gain entry into a time when calories, fat and sugar were not the enemy but instead the friend. Indeed; ignorance was bliss!
— Sari Edelstein, PhD, RD, Professor of Nutrition, Director of the Nutrition Student Mentor Program; Director of the Simmons-Tufts DPD Program
This is food history as gossip, exuberantly written. Read it with one hand in the salt pot.
— Paul Levy, PhD, FRSL, writer and journalist; co-author of The Official Foodie Handbook