Books like "Salt" or "Cod"?

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I can't think of what those kinds of books are called. But I would love any suggestions on books that are similar. Basically it traces the history of salt or cod. I heard there was one on forks but have yet to find it. Any titles you can give me would be highly appreciated! Thanks :)

(note: I haven't actually read Salt or Cod but I find the idea fascinating)

Lots of good suggestions. [I've read and enjoyed Cod very much and will doubtless get around to Salt one of these days!]


I really should learn to search forum history before posting. Thanks!




I was going to recommend Margaret Visser's work, but I see BLUENOSER beat me to it!




Yeah, I heard that. I think it's called "The Big Oyster".


I'm reading it right now...almost done, it's very good.


Neuilly 14 yrs ago
My list is so long now, this is wonderful! Thank you everyone. And someone has actually heard of the fork book. Fantastic :)

And I, of course, welcome more suggestions!


...and lots of fabulous suggestions this time around, as well!



Noted on the other thread. Henry Petroski's The Book on the Bookshelf. I am going to put this on my wishlist. The same author seems to have another book called Pencil and another called The Evolution of Useful Things.


"The Basque History of the World", which I have just read.

(That is Mark Kurlansky, by the way).


A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire - Amy Butler Greenfield

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and how It Transformed Our World - Mark Pendergrast


A History of the World in Six Glasses - Tom Standage


There's a shop by me called "uncommon grounds"...that's rather funny!

So many wonderful suggestions, thanks guys! I've added several to my list. :)


avanta7 14 yrs ago
Try this one
CALENDAR: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year
by David Ewing Duncan.



Covers 4 things: the apple, the potato, marijuana and the tulip.
Very good.
Sorry, I don't own it.
Boy am I sorry! It's so good!
Forgot author's name. Sorry again --


> Covers 4 things: the apple, the potato,
> marijuana and the tulip. Very good.
> Sorry, I don't own it. Boy am I sorry!
> It's so good! Forgot author's name.
> Sorry again- -

It's Michael Pollan.


I've made a list of all titles named here and there. Great list.


I never even knew such books exist! I'm not going to look up 'Salt' and 'Cod' right away!


I read them both and greatly enjoyed them.



It's about the colour.


It's a nice word but I made it up (I think)!It's quite appropriate,I feel.
I should tell you that there is also one called "Sugar".
My auntie has "Salt" and "Sugar"-I saw them yesterday.


here are a few I enjoyed:

Champagne : How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times

Consider the Eel: A Natural and Gastronomic History

Caviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World's Most Coveted Delicacy

and by the way, I've read the fork book too! It's called:

Culture of the Fork: A Brief History of Everyday Food in Europe


mrsjones 14 yrs ago
It's a good one. The author combines his love of candy and the role candy played in his childhood with more historical information about candies and candy factories. I can't remember the author... Stephen something?

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I couldn't read it without wanting to sample some of the candies he talked about.


I recently read this -- if you're interested, PM me, and maybe I'll RABCK it to you.


wingBasculawing 14 yrs ago
A few more
My husband seems to like these kinds of things. Of course there is Stephen Hawkings' A Brief History of Time; my husband's also read the history of circumcision (!), a 'docubook' about dust and where it comes from, and of course one on the history of zero.


Which I haven't read yet but do have a copy of:

I never read 'Salt' but really enjoyed 'Cod' especially given that I'm from Newfoundland, so it was great to read about something that figures so significantly in our history.


It's the history of where colours come from. I ordered it, I have got it yet but it was recommended to me by a friend when we were talking about oil and watercolour painting.


I can't uncritically recommend this book, becasue he's awfully biased, and some of his material may not even be factually accurate, but it is interesting.


This is a great book in this genre. The author talks about the history of chocolate as he travels through the most important chocolate-related locations around the world. Delicious!


oh my, this one sounds delicious!


by Larry Zuckerman was excellent.


Spice: A History of Temptation by James Turner


A highly personal research into the Jewish tradition of mourning.


"Coal - A human history" by Barbara Friese. Friese is from Minnesota and the book takes an international perspective.

"London" by Peter Ackroyd - a wonderful book for dipping into - history, social history and geography. Definitely not a travelogue, but a book for everyone who loves London

Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History
Giles Milton - Not one I've read, but it has good reviews "Would you believe that nutmeg formed the basis for one of the most bitter international conflicts of the 17th century, and was also intimately connected to the rise to global pre-eminence of New York City?"

Longitude - Dava Sobel Horology, navigation and astronomy. A search for an accurate means of determining logitude. Fascinating book.



I agree with Neuilly that these books are very interesting and engaging. I can't even begin to think how one researchs these topics! I read one about bananas called "Bananas: An American History" by Virginia Scott Jenkins. I think she also wrote one on lawns as well. Peace!


just in case you want to join in and honor her son:


Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen


subtitled: "A History of the World According to Coffee"

Looks like a good read - hope to add it to my TBR pile soon!


Thanks for this great thread, lots more books for my wishlist now!


My wishlist has grown a lot too due to this thread.


I started a lens of "Micro Histories" on :


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