MILK!

10,000- A YEAR FOOD FRA­CAS

The Oldie - - MISCELLANEOUS -

MARK KURLANSKY Blooms­bury, 385pp, £18.99, Oldie price £12.36 inc p&p

Mark Kurlansky is the founder mem­ber of the ‘com­mod­ity his­tory’ genre of books, hav­ing taken on cod, salt and oys­ters re­spec­tively in his many books. His lat­est Milk! is, thought Ian Critchley in the Times, ‘a trea­sure trove of fas­ci­nat­ing de­tails’. Many re­view­ers found par­tic­u­larly in­trigu­ing Kurlansky’s point that it is in fact aber­rant for hu­mans to drink non-hu­man milk: fash­ion­ably lac­tose-in­tol­er­ant types are in fact the evo­lu­tion­ary nor­mal. Ac­cord­ing to Joanna Blyth­man in the

Spec­ta­tor: ‘Lac­tose (milk sugar) in­tol­er­ance is the nat­u­ral con­di­tion of all mam­mals, he ar­gues. In na­ture, the ba­bies of most mam­mals nurse only un­til they are ready for solid food, then a gene steps in to shut down pro­duc­tion of lac­tase, the en­zyme that makes it pos­si­ble to di­gest lac­tose prop­erly.’ New York

Times re­viewer Rich Co­hen liked the weirder de­tails: ‘There are records of women in the high­lands of New Guinea breast-feed­ing piglets, pre-euro­pean Hawai­ians breast­feed­ing pup­pies, and Guyanese

women breast-feed­ing deer.’ Elaine Khos­rova also en­joyed the ride in the Wall Street Jour­nal: ‘There are Ti­betan-but­ter cus­toms, re­gional pud­ding pref­er­ences, mod­ern Chi­nese dairying, milk-in­spired mythol­ogy and a good deal more. As well as 100 recipes (the vichys­soise is heav­enly).’

Posi­tano on the Mediter­ranean: its cli­mate and cul­ture ap­peal to the Bri­tish

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