The History of Ingredients

Here are the histories of all the things you need to make a good chocolate cake and lots of other yummy things besides. Have you ever wondered how we figured out how to make butter? Whose idea was it to eat the first egg? Here are some microhistories of common foods we enjoy today. 

The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat by Matt Siegel
A rich and satisfying exploration of the historical, cultural, scientific, sexual, and, yes, culinary subcultures of this most essential realm. 

Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova
From its accidental invention in a long-ago herder’s pouch to its ubiquitous presence in the world’s most fabulous cuisines, butter is boss. Now, it finally gets its due.

Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk through the Ages, With 120 Adventurous Recipes That Explore the Riches of Our First Food by Anne Mendelson
Part cookbook—with more than 120 enticing recipes—part culinary history, part inquiry into the evolution of an industry, Milk is a one-of-a-kind book that will forever change the way we think about dairy products.

Egg: A Dozen Ovatures by Lizzie Stark
An unconventional history of the world’s largest cellular workhorse, from chickens to penguins, art to egg crimes, and more.

The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky
The story of the only rock we eat, including its origin, the other discoveries made because of it, and tales of salt and the people who have been involved with it through the ages.

Sugar: The World Corrupted, From Slavery to Obesity by James Walvin
Acclaimed historian James Walvin looks at the history of our collective sweet tooth, beginning with the sugar grown by enslaved people who had been uprooted and shipped vast distances to undertake the grueling labor on plantations.

The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe
This delightful tale of one of the world’s favorite foods draws on botany, archaeology, and culinary history to present a complete and accurate history of chocolate.