Dr Lehmann's original thesis, submitted to the University of Burgundy in Dijon, has always had mythic status: the French taking English cookery seriously? So much material about 18th-century cookery books locked away in a doctoral vault, hidden from our hungry eyes? To find out how ordinary people really ate, Lehmann conducts a fingertip search of contemporary diaries and memoirs, and in the process discovers a hundred little human dramas, fraught with greed and envy. Jane Austen writes to her sister about the provincial earliness of the dinner hour at Steventon, and Boswell drops in on a friend and finds her tucking into pigeon pie, beef and drinking madeira so naturally, he joins in. This book is a delight for both historians and enthusiasts of cooking.