This volume brings together two of the most powerful ingredients for identity building: food and television. Through its transnational and European focus, it offers a delicately balanced menu of national case studies highlighting how the new medium of television treated food and cooking as both object of culinary instruction or dietetic advice and aesthetic mise-en-scène of chefs as celebrities; education in taste and popular entertainment go hand in hand. As the authors convincingly demonstrate, cooking shows – be it in socialist Yugoslavia, under Portuguese dictatorship, or in countries of Western European democracies – served the ambiguous purpose of promoting national specificity and culinary traditions while at the same time acting as agents of culinary globalization and internationalization. The book fills a real gap in early television history – a truly European taste contest through the lens of TV.
Professor Andreas Fickers, Luxembourg University
Food and Cooking on Early Television is a gift for English-speaking readers—food studies and communication scholars like myself whose understandings of early food television programming and audiences have been constrained to a focus on English-speaking countries by our paralytic monolingualism. The collection’s contributors laser in on early food TV in eight countries across Eastern and Western Europe as they examine its role in the shifts from food shortages and wars to development and modernization. The contributors bring to light cooking shows and their audiences as agents and conduits for massive sociopolitical shifts in Europe—influencing national discourses about gender, religion, expertise, and celebrity—from the dawn of broadcasting to the late 1960s. The volume offers a fascinating account of how tensions between education and entertainment played out in various national settings as food and cooking TV mediated viewer taste(s).
Professor Kathleen LeBesco, Marymount Manhattan College, USA
An indispensable collection for anyone who wants to understand the history of food television in postwar Europe. Based on extensive primary research, the book provides fascinating and original insights into both media and food history and demonstrates how cookery TV was used to negotiate the meaning of modernity. The collection expands our understanding of the development of TV aesthetics and genres and the rise of celebrity chefs and highlights how food television has played a role in constructing the nation. Recommended for anyone interested in postwar European food cultures.
Dr Joanne Hollows
This is an important collection for several reasons. First, it provides a rich and critical contribution to the record of historical, geographical, and ideological complexities of the seemingly simple contemporary term “food TV”. Secondly, its timing could not be more opportune as the world grapples with some version of a “new [post-COVID] normal” where, much like the post-war context many of these chapters examine, everyday roles and behaviours have already been fundamentally altered. The parallels of needing both education and entertainment in various stages of lockdown and sourdough frenzies in 2020 to cooking with rationed foods and learning to use a microwave six decades ago is both a startling and necessary reminder that the dynamics of “then” are not necessarily confined to the past, even if our “now” is more directly shaped by following Stanley Tucci eating around Italy on CNN than watching Philip Harben on the BBC in 1946.
Dr Signe Rousseau, University of Cape Town; Co-Chair Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies