Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language
by Ina Lipkowitz

St. Martin’s Press/July 2011

English food words tell a remarkable story about the evolution of our language and culinary history, revealing a collision of cultures from the time Caesar first arrived on British shores to the present day. WORDS TO EAT BY explores the stories behind five of our most basic food words, words which reveal our powerful associations with certain foods. Using sources that range from Roman histories to Julia Child’s recipes, Ina Lipkowitz shows how saturated with French and Italian names the English culinary vocabulary is. But the words for our most basic foodstuffs—bread, milk, leek, meat, and apple—are still rooted in Old English. WORDS TO EAT BY will make readers reconsider the foods they eat and the words they use to describe them. Brimming with information, this book offers an analysis of our culinary and linguistic heritage that is as accessible as it is enlightening.

About the Author
Ina Lipkowitz was born and raised in New York. When she was barely able to walk, she surprised her parents by standing up on her chair at a restaurant and screaming, "I want Chinese!" She's loved food ever since--not just Chinese food, but all food. Despite having won an honorable mention for the Chocolate Fudge Cake she submitted to a Girl Scouts' baking competition and despite having worked her way through high school at the local McDonald's, Ina did not pursue her love of food professionally. Instead she studied English literature at Barnard College and then received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She taught English, French, and German literature at Harvard University and currently teaches literature and biblical studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her love for all things culinary never waned, however, and she continued to cook and bake, as well as to read virtually anything having to do with food. She combined her passions for languages and food in her first book, WORDS TO EAT BY: Five Foods and a Culinary History of the English Language (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

Ina lives with her family outside of Boston. When she's not at her computer or in the kitchen, she's most likely to be found swimming in Walden Pond or cycling on a quiet scenic road, preferably in Western Massachusetts.