[UCP Books]: Dinner With Darwin: Food, Drink , and Evolution by Jonathan Silvertown

"A science-informed tour of the table, showing how our fare comes to us courtesy of natural
selection—and, of course, survival of the fittest. . . . A tasty nibble for the bookish, science-inclined

Kirkus Reviews


"Silvertown breaks down the sociology, selective breeding, and nutritional evolution behind each
contemporary dietary staple. . . . This tour—from animal to vegetable to beer—will give even the most
ambitious foodie something to chew on."

Scientific American


"A series of beautifully plated amuse-bouche, raising tantalizing and rich ideas. . . . The book left me
feeling as if I had attended a dinner party, where foodies, historians, and scientists mingled, sharing
vignettes on various food-related topics. Each ‘bite’ . . . left me contemplating the relationships
between genetic changes, speciation, and, at times, even the future of our planet."




Dinner With Darwin

Food, Drink , and Evolution
Jonathan Silvertown


Domestic and International Publication Date: 09 October 2017
320 pages | 6 maps, 6 line drawings | 6 x 9 | ISBN-13: 978-0-226-24539-3 | Cloth $27.50/£20.50



Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Quite obviously the egg, says Jonathan Silvertown. But it came from a dinosaur (just imagine the omelets). Regardless of the egg’s specific origins, Silvertown says, contained within this hard-shelled wonder are twinned evolutionary marvels: in the ancient amniotic sac, a protective membrane for embryos that allowed any number of species to flourish on dry land; and in the golden yolk, an elixir of nutrients that transforms embryo to chick—and puts custard on our dessert plates. From aurochs and tapeworms to cilantro, salty taste sense to the salacious love lives of potatoes, the fascinating evolutionary histories of food and the experience of eating are both visceral and full of viscera—and essential to our understanding of human evolution itself. It’s alimentary, dear reader. Dinner with Darwin explores it all—the piquant and the bitter, the delicious and the seemingly disgusting. In a series of courses diverse enough to suit any taste, Silvertown’s meditations on evolutionary gastronomy open wide eyes and mouths with tales of umami, animal domestication, agriculture, our love of cheese (and all things dairy), the role of sociality in feasting (and intoxication), the diets of the future, and much more.


Jonathan Silvertown is professor of evolutionary ecology in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author, most recently, of The Long and the Short of It: The Science of Life Span and Aging, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Please contact Nicholas Lilly at 773.702.7490 or nlilly@uchicago.edu for more information.



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