"Joyously delicious...In her original and supremely captivating book, [Collingham] has cleverly recreated the fine details of some 20 meals, consumed for four and a half centuries in a variety of homes and ships and tented encampments far from the motherland...In British terms, she is Henry Mayhew and Mass-Observation rolled into one-a stellar observer of the day-to-day and the mundane, a social historian of extraordinary talent."
"The entwined histories of food and British imperialism...have been strangely overlooked in the decades of research since. In The Taste of Empire, Lizzie Collingham puts that neglect to rights, showing in a tour de force of synthesis that food was one of the driving forces of empire and helped form the eating habits of the entire modern world...Collingham's great achievement is to take [the empire's] food history out of the realm of cozy nostalgia and show it for the potent economic and political force it was."
"The Taste of Empire...is fascinating reading, and its central point is more than clear: Britain's many hungers shrank the world in ways that are still nearly impossible to untangle...Whether you're a foodie or a history buff, this should be a satisfying read; sometimes the best way to history's heart is through its stomach."
"Collingham...sees trade in sugar, spice, rice and tea as the reason the British were so keen to command sea routes dating from the 16th century...The result is the stuff of lively cocktail party conversation among the geekiest of food lovers, right down to the occasional recipe for mock turtle, rum punch and (Hello, Bridget Jones!) leftover turkey curry."
—The Times (UK)
"There are many factors that drove Britain's centuries-long quest for world domination. But one of the biggest, argues historian Lizzie Collingham...was a taste for better, more exotic food, from India's pepper and tea to Barbados' sugar."
"Usually it is assumed that Britain's empire appeared and then Britain's food trade-that vast tonnage of tea, flour, sugar, bully beef and Crosse & Blackwell pickle that swept across the seven seas-appeared to feed it. Ms. Collingham turns that idea neatly on its head. It was not so much the empire that began the trade, but trade that began the empire."
—Max Hastings, Sunday Times (UK)
"Collingham shows how the spread of different dishes shaped the modern world."
"Collingham's...historical vignettes and recipes...are equal parts fascinating and horrifying, in the way only pre-germ theory food handling can be."
"Collingham writes about the British Empire from a unique perspective...The history of West Indian sugar, African slavery, and American colonization is an oft-told tale, but Collingham takes mere mercantilism and expands and deepens its consequences."
—Bee Wilson, author of First Bite
"Deeply researched and highly readable, [Collingham's] book takes on the sprawling subject of how 450 years of British colonialism affected foodways the world over...Engaging."
"Enjoyable for historians and gastronomes alike...Collingham has built a banquet of British history and culture that shows how the world's largest empire followed food to the pinnacle of its power."