This is clearly a product of love, much research and thought and hopefully the reader will cherish it with similar affection. Despite its title, there are not 100 recipes and neither are many of the recipes something you will probably try for a family meal, but don't let that put you off!
Here the author delves back through time and a myriad of recipe books and food books that have been published, wryly noting that many contain similar boastful, self-indulgent claims about their breadth, uniqueness or completeness as those that often appear today. The fruits of the author's labour are presented as a celebratory, knowledgeable, information and yet concise look at 100 dishes, many of which are still popular today (albeit with some modification at times) and many that may have fell by the culinary wayside.
Starting from Ancient Egyptian bread and working in a chronological order the reader is treated to such items as Roast Goat (30 BC), Pasta (1154), tips on party planning (1420), Hot Chocolate (1568) and even a revelation as to how the Englishman discovered the fork (1611). Time and food development marches on and in the past century featured dishes include Strawberry ice-cream soda, Toad-in-the-Hole, Omelette, Cheese Fondue, Fairy Cakes and Sweet and Sour Pork. For one reason or another, which will become clearer to the reader, the author has selected each recipe and pinned it to a specific place in the chronology for a reason. It might be due to an historical event, a "new" cook book or other writing, a new development or even due to a craze.
Truly a quirky, interesting, innovative and thought-provoking series of friendly, informative mini essays. Not every recipe from earlier times had been committed to paper, instead being often passed word-of-mouth or depicted in other forms such as tapestries. As such, the author has been forced to recreate and salvage these recipes and much information from many disparate sources. For the curious gastronome, this shall be no problem. It is clear that you are not going to use this book as a centre for your family meal planning, yet the curious may use this as a base for recreating meals from the past and maybe even be encouraged to undertake similar culinary detective work. Not every recipe has necessarily been found under a layer of metaphorical dust, as there are some contributions and takes on older food from many modern-day top chefs and cooks such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Marco Pierre White, Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal.
It is hoped that the author nor publisher are being done a disservice by saying that this is a book that the casual browser may pass by. The book (based on viewing a digital version rather than receiving a physical copy) gives the impression of being a little subdued. Not quite a dry academic text book but one of those "hard to categorise, hard to promote" books. Yet those with an interest of food (or a general curiosity) will miss out on a treat if they pass this one by. Even if you read one mini-essay per day you will have many months of a "daily boggle" to keep you and your friends and family amused and amazed.
A fairly extensive "select bibliography" (running to several pages) and a great index complete this book. As stated, if you are a curious sort of person, perhaps love food more than just the taste of it and wish to broaden your horizon this is the sort of book for you. For reading at home and for reference purposes the physical book will probably be best, but its size might make it less desirable as a travel companion. Fortunately, there is a eBook available - but with current pricing and market conditions you will be buying the same thing twice. That is a decision for you and a thought for the publishing industry at-large...