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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Markets lie at the heart of this Companion. Without them, many of the foods described herein would not reach the tables of its discerning readers. Markets also lie at the centre of the process of urbanization. Towns were often founded so that a market could be supported, or markets grew and prospered because they serviced the towns where they were sited. This gives rise to the phenomenon that town-dwellers, in general, are better nourished, or better supplied, than their country cousins and that cookery as a mark of good-living is better nurtured within a town than a country setting—just as cookery as an art probably benefits from the spare leisure and spare cash that exist within the social context of an aristocracy or social class devoted to conspicuous consumption. John Dickie’s account of Italian cookery (2008) is an interpretation of a national cuisine and its relation to towns and markets; Theodore Bestor (2004) explores the history of the fish market in Tokyo for its importance to the Japanese. In both works, as well as in the study by Daniel Roche (2000) of French consumption in the early-modern era, this town–country dichotomy is intriguingly explored.