• The Secret History of Food

  • Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat
  • By: Matt Siegel
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 5 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (142 ratings)

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The Secret History of Food

By: Matt Siegel
Narrated by: Roger Wayne
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Publisher's Summary

An irreverent, surprising, and entirely entertaining look at the little-known history surrounding the foods we know and love.

Is Italian olive oil really Italian, or are we dipping our bread in lamp oil? Why are we masochistically drawn to foods that can hurt us, like hot peppers? Far from being a classic American dish, is apple pie actually...English?

“As a species, we’re hardwired to obsess over food”, Matt Siegel explains as he sets out “to uncover the hidden side of everything we put in our mouths”. Siegel also probes subjects ranging from the myths - and realities - of food as aphrodisiac, to how one of the rarest and most exotic spices in all the world (vanilla) became a synonym for uninspired sexual proclivities, to the role of food in fairy and morality tales. He even makes a well-argued case for how ice cream helped defeat the Nazis.

The Secret History of Food is a rich and satisfying exploration of the historical, cultural, scientific, sexual, and, yes, culinary subcultures of this most essential realm. Siegel is an armchair Anthony Bourdain, armed not with a chef’s knife but with knowledge derived from medieval food-related manuscripts, ancient Chinese scrolls, and obscure culinary journals. Funny and fascinating, The Secret History of Food is essential listening for all foodies.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Matt Siegel (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Secret History of Food

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really interesting! Little darker than I thought…

I enjoyed this book. Nice little “snack” book, a quick listen. The narration was fantastic! It was really engaging and I loved how the narrator used voices/characters/impressions on the quotes! That was really fun! The book was interesting & engaging but I must admit it was a little darker than I thought it would be. It was still good but a lot of the info was hard to swallow (pun intended).

5 people found this helpful

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If you’re a foodie, it’s dull

I’ve been fascinated by food anthropology and food history for a long time. MFK Fisher, Michael Pollan, many others have written on food and world evolution. This book seemed a repeat, and not so much secret to me. Maybe I’m a good history geek but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re looking for a good nap.

2 people found this helpful

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Entertaining and Informative

The history of American food told in a non-dried out manner that will keep you listening and rethink your grocery list.

2 people found this helpful

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Tasty Treat

I enjoyed listening to this book. Nothing profound, really, but an enjoyable, meandering romp through some history of food, and how people think about (digest?) food. There are interesting, and frankly, entertaining peeks into some historical perceptions of now-common foods. What, for example, was deemed poison even though it isn't; examples of fantasies some cultures have whipped up about food; some insight into the abundance of food now available, and why, despite having foods once reserved for the royalty available at the corner store, people aren't particularly enchanted or impressed with their options.

The narration is terrific. Some little side comments come off well, instigating an out loud laugh here and there. Some of the points are thought provoking - such as why almost unlimited choices aren't always a good thing.

The section on olive oil is a little disheartening, because it quantifies the amount of fraud and adulteration that goes on in that "healthy" business.

The book probably won't change your life. It might not even impact your shopping or eating habits. But I found a lot of interesting facts and stories "within its covers." Roger Wayne made it even more interesting as narrator (and tour guide).

The pdf file that comes with the book is merely a list of citations/references.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting information, wish it was longer

I wish there were more chapters on different foods, but it’s a pretty good book. Some of the information is depressing (in regards to quality of food today), but the author does a good job of keeping things lighthearted. Some topics interested me more than others but I guess that’s a good thing since it means there’s variety - Some of the focus on food is of it’s history and how it was cultivated while other times it talks more about the culture around it.
Anyway, this is a fun, easy listen if you want to learn about a few random foods as well as food culture of the past and of today.

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Interesting

Interesting and surprisingly entertaining. It’s hard to beat good research and good writing, with a topic so common to us all.

1 person found this helpful

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Good, but could be edited to be more appropriate

The facts of the history of food is interesting and even eye opening in some places. It does leave me reconsidering some foods I consume, and wondering who to trust. But the author uses language that is unnecessary. Swearing just shows a lack of intelligence. Sex is brought up quite a bit, so the book is not family friendly, though it does show the depravity of humans from the beginning of time. I find it interesting that the author references to Christian faith quite a few times in the book, but yet seems to hold a personal view that is the opposite.

1 person found this helpful

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A Fun & Informatice Read

I really enjoyed this book so much so that I intend to purchase the hard bound version to have for easy reference Don't forget to download the PDF accompanying this audible book

1 person found this helpful

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Entertaining but expected more

This was a fun book on a long road trip, but I expected more educational value from it. I was entertained though and it was easy to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Listen before or long after dinner

This is a delightful listen! I love the various stories and it's nice to see corn and honey getting their due as dreadful to human life!

I, unfortunately, was eating lunch as listened to the section on honey. Quaffing honey from a container found in an Egyptian grave might be silly to start with, then being unfamiliar with their practice of coating body parts in it for preservation can only lead to, well, vomiting: for the participant and the listener!!! Yikes!

Roger Wayne brilliantly delivers this material with charm and, well, gusto, as required.

George Young
Montreal, Canada