Written in a colorful style that will appeal to fans of Mark Kurlansky and Michael Pollan, this ambitious yet accessible book travels effortlessly from the Crusades to the present day. Michael Krondl explains that it was the desire for spices that got international trade up and running on a scale that had never occurred prior to that time. This explosive growth of the spice trade led to the successive rise and fall of Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam.
Krondl, a gifted food writer, travels to each of these great cities and begins his visit with a great meal. Gradually, he merges the menu he's enjoying with the city's colorful past, and listeners are off on a gastronomical tour that teaches them not only about food and spice but also about history and commerce.
©2007 Michael Krondl; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"The Taste of Conquest is the savory story of the rise and fall of three spice-trading cities. It is filled with rich aromas and piquant tastes from the past that still resonate today. Michael Krondl serves up this aromatic tale with zest and verve. This book isn't just for historians and spice lovers - it's for all who love good writing and great stories." (Andrew F. Smith, editor, The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink)
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With a subject as interesting as the history of spice, this was unfortunately a bit of a dull listen. However the pronunciation of the reader was annoying at times especially with the Dutch words which could not even be recognized by a native speaker. Why not check with someone prior to venturing out on a project like this?
"not so tasty"
Although I heard the author interviewed on the radio where he and the subject sounded fascinating, we were not enthralled with the book or the reader. The book seemed in serious need of an editor. And the reader had such strange pronunciations on words in French, Italian, Spanish and - yes - even English that we were being constantly thrown off balance. After about an hour, we gave it up as a loss. Alas.
"Not that bad."
I thought this was actually an interesting book. I'm interested in Venetian and Portuguese history, and this has some interesting insights. Also, the spice trade is a fascinating historical episode. The author obviously knows what he is talking about when it comes to food, and it is a novel idea having a chef as a historian working through food.
I have to agree with the other reviewers, though... the narrator can't pronounce his way out of a wet paper bag. But, I guess I'm more inclined to overlook something like that if the book itself is intersting.
There were so many food-related mis-pronunciations by the narrator that is was annoying: galangale, confit. Not very good research or practice and his part and sloppy editing!
In general, the book was well written and kept my attention, but I will avoid other works narrated by Todd McLaren.
Someone with food knowledge
Author interview on the radio was more fascinating than book. Was looking for a little more history and a little less spice.
The narrator of this book is fine for the most part, and would be an excellent narrator for an American story with all American names and characters and places.
However, he didn't bother to learn many of the foreign pronunciations in this book, mispronouncing Joao, Felipe, Jan, and a dozen other personal and place names I recognized, and I don't know how many that I don't know any better about. This is a problem for a book about foreign lands and foods.
(Some of his foreign accents were way off, as well, but that's a minor issue.)
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