Recent historiographies of food history identify a new dynamism in its mission and a surge in the number and quality of publications. 1 This refortified enthusiasm is the result of, first, the rediscovery of links between food and ill-health following the food scares of the last two decades, such as the cholesterol/heart disease nexus; food poisoning from salmonella and E. coli O157; BSE; and, most recently, the increase of obesity. 2 Together these have encouraged a closer scrutiny of dietdisease history and a search for foods that will deliver better health, such as those in the Mediterranean dietary complex. Second, environmental concerns about carbon emissions, coupled with low levels of traceability and accountability in longdistance food transfers, have started a debate about the desirability of local food. Studies of gastronomic patrimony, terroir and of typical foods have flourished as a result, as have geographical works seeking to lay bare the evolving nature of food chains. Third, modern prosperity has meant that the portion of disposable incomes spent on food has been significantly reduced in the last 50 years or so in Europe and North America. Consumers are willing and able to prioritize eating out and the purchase of expensive items such as organic foods. Quality in all of its guises, including the material, has therefore become an issue, as never before. Fourth, there is the strange paradox that, while we are less and less willing to spend time cooking complicated dishes, there is more and more media exposure for celebrity chefs and stories about food. In other words, food has been transformed from a basic necessity to the raw material of entertainment and leisure.