From the forbidden fruit of the Old Testament to the numerous laws broken at Francois Mitterand’s final meal, In the Devil’s Garden is a mouth-watering history of food taboos from around the world - a smorgasbord of culinary titbits to spice up any after-dinner conversation.
In a history peppered with religious extremists who would rather starve to death than violate ancient taboos, and in an age when half the world’s population - from cow-loving Hindus to Kosher Jews and Western vegetarians - still live with harsh dietary restrictions, Allen reveals just how significant, and pervasive, our relationship with food is.
“Allen’s range of anecdotes is so varied and offbeat that is makes for a fascinating book.”
times Literary Supplement
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“His book is a finger-buffet of travellers’ and fishermen’s tales associated with food and food taboos, loosely chapter-bound by the Seven Deadly Sins… If we are, as the 18th Century food writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first suggested, what we eat, then Allen is a strange and adventuresome man.”
“Food factoids, whimsy, mad opinion, history and hearsay tumble across the pages of In The Devil’s Garden… Here, Allen’s anecdote-packed, gonzo writing style swashbuckles between the badly behaved European aristocrats who like to take a cup of jasmine-scented chocolate while watching infidels being burned alive to the “harlot-princess-slut divine, dominatrix bitch” Madame du Barry, who seduced Louis XV with a mountain of luxury.”
Currently living in Brooklyn, Stewart Lee Allen has also called California, Kathmandu, Sydney, San Cristobel, Calcutta and San Francisco home. When not lounging about a café in a far-flung corner of the globe, he has worked as a grape-picker, theatrical director, bathroom attendant, grave-digger, punk musician, smuggler and, of course, a writer. He is the author of the award-winning fiction collection The Art of Rape as well as his acclaimed history of coffee, The Devil’s Cup.