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The Lost Supper

Searching for the Future of Food in the Flavors of the Past

by (author) Taras Grescoe

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2024
    List Price

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A New Scientist, Globe and Mail, and Eater Best Book of 2023

In the tradition of Michael Pollan, Anthony Bourdain, and Mark Bittman, “a surprising, flavorsome tour of ancient cuisines” (Kirkus, STARRED)—from Neolithic bread to ancient Roman fish sauce—and why reviving the foods of the past is the key to saving the future.

“A fascinating look at the people who are keeping these ancient food traditions alive against the odds, while offering a rough roadmap toward a more sustainable food ecosystem.”—Eater

Many of us are worried (or at least we should be) about the impacts of globalization, pollution, and biotechnology on our diets. Whether it's monoculture crops, hormone-fed beef, or high-fructose corn syrup, industrially-produced foods have troubling consequences for us and the planet. But as culinary diversity diminishes, many people are looking to a surprising place to safeguard the future: into the past.

The Lost Supper explores an idea that is quickly spreading among restaurateurs, food producers, scientists, and gastronomes around the world: that the key to healthy and sustainable eating lies not in looking forward, but in looking back to the foods that have sustained us through our half-million-year existence as a species.

Acclaimed author Taras Grescoe introduces readers to the surprising and forgotten flavors whose revival is captivating food-lovers around the world: ancient sourdough bread last baked by Egyptian pharaohs; raw-milk farmhouse cheese from critically endangered British dairy cattle; ham from Spanish pata negra pigs that have been foraging on acorns on a secluded island since before the United States was a nation; and olive oil from wild olive trees uniquely capable of resisting quickly evolving pests and modern pathogens.

From Ancient Roman fish sauce to Aztec caviar to the long-thought-extinct silphium, The Lost Supper is a deep dive into the latest frontier of global gastronomy—the archaeology of taste. Through vivid writing, history, and first-hand culinary experience, Grescoe sets out a provocative case: in order to save these foods, he argues, we've got to eat them.


Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute.

About the author

TARAS GRESCOE is the author of four books, including the bestselling Bottomfeeder, which won the 2008 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction. Two other titles, Sacré Blues and The End of Elsewhere, were shortlisted for Writers’ Trust awards. His work has appeared in a great variety of major publications including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Gourmet, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic, The Times (UK) and The Independent. He lives in Montreal. Visit him online at

Taras Grescoe's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“An outstanding and crucial read amid this global emergency.”
Quill & Quire, STARRED Review

“I cheered when I read this book, a series of lyrically descriptive essays telling of the author's interesting journeys to find world's forgotten foods. It is beautifully persuasive.”
—The Spectator

“[An] informative and engaging travelogue.”
—Winnipeg Free Press

“Fascinating… Grescoe is ambitious for solutions.”
—The Daily Telegraph

“...[the author’s] intrepid attempt to satiate ‘a wild impulse to experience the taste of ancient foods.’... sobering and hopeful in equal measure”
Literary Review of Canada

"The Lost Supper... thrills with its escapist, aspirational appeal and ripped-from the-headlines documentary qualities. Surprising, often enthralling, facts about the past anchor Grescoe’s trips... The book excels at bridging these deep histories with the present, resulting in the immediacy of an epicurean and archaeological adventure... Covering a global culinary adventure, The Lost Supper melds food history with culinary derring-do."
—Foreword Reviews

"Grescoe sets out an illuminating analysis of “dwindling nutritional diversity,” what a more sustainable, nutritionally varied future might look like, and how food systems should change to get there... This is worth a look."
—Publishers Weekly

"In vivid and engaging prose, Grescoe makes the case that we shouldn’t blame farming for our ills, but rather we need to return to ancient techniques and breeds. By remembering the diversity of forgotten foods we once ate, he argues that we can rebuild the health and resilience we've lost. The Lost Supper weaves fascinating history with delightful culinary adventure and will entrance anyone who’s longed to taste the flavors of the past."
—Gina Rae La Cerva, author of Feasting Wild

"A treasure map that guides us to the delicious and nutritious foods that could very well save our species."
—Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish

"A fresh look at our wild roots, from the true meaning of paleo (eating termites) to the dawn of monoculture and the collapse of culinary (and agricultural) diversity."
—Matt Siegel, author of The Secret History of Food

"Prepare for intrigue and a deep dive into the history of food, the Anthropocene’s often unintended hand in shaping it, and what it means for the future. Grescoe’s vibrant writing and delectable storytelling bring deep understanding to how we eat."
—Ian Knauer, chef and author of The Farm

"A surprising, flavorsome tour of ancient cuisines demonstrating how the way forward involves looking back. This is not just another slick volume about cooking exotic food. . . Grescoe advises readers to look beyond the supermarket shelves, think before they buy, and take some culinary chances. 'For those who champion the Earth's dwindling nutritional diversity,' he concludes, 'the message is as simple as it is urgent: to save it, you’ve got to eat it.' Grescoe writes with color, energy, and humor, and the result is a fascinating book that leaves you hungry for more."
Kirkus STARRED Review

“If you are suffering from apocalypse fatigue when reading about global food, The Lost Supper may be the sane, personable, and imaginative exploration of the possibilities of eating here and now that you need. Grescoe has a historian’s precision concerning the forces that imperil great foods and knows that the major lesson to be imparted to readers is how to surf change and keep community vital.”
—David S. Shields, author of The Culinarians and co-author of Slow Food USA's The Ark of Taste


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