Romaine Wasn’t Built in a Day: The Delightful History of Food Language

Hachette Audio. Feb. 2023. 3:48 hrs. ISBN 9781668620021. $18.99. LANG
“Eating and talking are two of our biggest pleasures,” notes food historian Tschann (emerita, medieval studies, Univ. of Redlands); her delicious and delightful debut examines both. From eponyms, like Earl Grey, to slang, like spilling the tea, Tschann explores the origins of the words that describe our three square meals—including drinks and dessert, of course. Listeners may be surprised how many foods are named after flatulence! She also investigates food words that have permeated unrelated areas, such as internet cookies, copypasta, computer servers, and spam in technological talk. Tschann’s detailed etymologies will have listeners ready to “look it up while you cook it up.” Narrator Alejandra Reynoso has a conversational tone that makes the information approachable and engaging, but her speedy delivery, paired with the depth of detail, may be overwhelming for some. Additional audio enhancements include clinking dishes, pouring coffee, and a dinner bell indicating “off the menu” asides. The accompanying PDF includes illustrations, an appendix, and engaging extras, such as a matching quiz for pasta shapes and their literal translations.
VERDICT This deliciously fast-paced nonfiction audio will appeal to foodies, history buffs, and lingua-phile listeners alike.
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