As June’s Book of Month I have chosen the highly entertaining Food and wine festivals and events around the world: Development, management and markets by Hall and Sharples (2008), another sparkling title downloaded from our ebook collection. As a lover of markets, I was naturally drawn to this subject matter. I’m not a fan of shopping, like most men I guess, but markets are refreshingly different than any air-conditioned shopping mall. As you would expect from an academic text it is packed full of academic references, verifying statistics and a doubtless quest for the authentic. Nevertheless, I found some sections alive and thriving as an outsider to the academic genre, such as the joyous ‘Apples, cider and celebration’ chapter by Liz Sharples (2008: 134) which describes the honorific apple harvest from time immemorial, or at least 4000 years, and its rich social and cultural history:

Wherever, and whenever, there is a harvest, there is a cause for celebration. The autumnal gathering of apples from   orchards and groves around the world is no exception. This is a crop which is consumed, appreciated and savoured by millions of people, young and old, and apple juice and cider, made from the pressing of this precious commodity, is also widely revered.

Cider was surprisingly used as currency between the 17th and 19th centuries as daily wages for farm labourers.  Political debate over preserving orchards, farmhouse ciders, and the rise of specialist, albeit mass-produced ciders, are also covered in this lively book.  Heritage and preservation is the message in the UK, and (perhaps dizzyingly) revolving around cider. In Sweden the attention of apple events circulates around preserving apple varieties.  Apple events have become a feature of  US society, as indeed they are in Canada. If you’re ever in picturesque Vernon, British Columbia, why not pop along to the splendidly quirky ‘Apple Harvest Hoedown and Quilt Show’? A wonderful feature of the UK is Wassailing, Old English for “be healthy”, the pagan ceremony performed for a bountious apple harvest, which is noisy, celebratory and symbolic, with participants hanging toast or bread onto apple trees to attract good spirits. If you’re interested, then the nearby Brandy Wharf Cider Centre in Waddingham celebrates this event around January. This is an extract from a song that is sung at the Butcher ’s Arms in Carhampton in Somerset and is recorded in a book by Evans (2002) cited in Hall and Sharples (2008: 139):

Oh apple tree we wassail thee

And happily will thou bear

For the Lord doth know where we shall be

Till apples another year

Old apple tree! We wassail thee!

And hoping thou will bear

Hatsful, capsful, three bushel bagsful

And a little heap under the stair

The book also covers the ressurgance of farmers’ markets, food and drink festivals, beer festivals, and various case studies such as those comparing Marylebone Market (central London), Bakewell Farmers’ Market (Derbyshire) and Askern Farmers’ Market (Yorkshire), to demonstrate their significant regional influence in terms of the economy, environment and social impact.  I would highly recommend Food and wine festivals and events around the world not only for Tourism students, but for those amongst us who prefer more of an authentic shopping experience, and want to know more about these communal events that have shaped societies by bringing people together in the name of food and drink. It is available by searching on the library catalogue and ‘log into ebook here’, or by selecting on the hyperlinked title.