Preface to the Third Edition

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

The aims and intentions of this further revision to Alan Davidson’s Companion have not altered since the first slight alterations introduced into the second edition of 2005. The original Companion was sui generis, a book treasured by its readers for its information and its inimitable style. Whatever changes made were undertaken conservatively, so that Alan’s mode of expression, his humour, his enthusiasms, and his take on food and its place in human experience were not edited away. Nonetheless, in the fourteen or fifteen years since the completion of the first draft so much has changed in the worlds of food, nutrition, agriculture and economy, food politics, food studies, and our understanding of food history. These changes have been radical and they have been fast-moving. It could be argued that they have been radical enough to warrant a new Companion altogether, but that may be another discussion. In the event, I have altered approximately 250 of the current entries, either to take account of new developments or to correct (very infrequent) factual error, and I have added 43 new entries. Space has necessarily been limited so I do not pretend that many of these new articles do more than alert the curious reader to the existence of a large subject worthy of consideration. The topics covered include such blockbusters as anthropology, sociology, photography, terroir, convenience foods, genetics, medicine, foraging, and obesity. This list merely serves to underline how quickly the terms of engagement have altered since 1999.