Sally Mann is a photographer of some notoriety. She is also, it turns out, an amazingly good writer able to create word pictures every bit as nuanced and beguiling as her picture pictures. An interesting question is whether, had she not been a renowned photographer, we would ever have learned what a fine writer she is. Would she have been prompted to write her memoir had she not been invited to give the Massey Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard?
What a wonderful book. When it first came out and got lots of praise I stupidly decided that it was not for me, possibly because the praise tended to focus on lyrical nature writing and that is not something I enjoy. However, my friend Nicola Davies was adamant that I give it a shot. I did, and was entranced from the word go.
Really excellent guide to changes in cuisine through history, and the forces that drove them. A useful antidote to the rose-tinted myth that the cooking of times gone by was so much better than the food we have now. Some people have described the book as too dry; I disagree. It is scholarly and informative, rather than the once-over-lightly so common in so many "factual" works.