Schivelbusch — Tastes of Paradise   Leave a comment

This book by cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch has a subtitle “A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants”, that says it all. Schivelbusch, concentrating on the modern era, traces the life histories of Europe’s favorite intoxicants (spices, coffee, hot chocolate, alcohol, and tobacco) and shows that their popularity was not universal but rather a function of both social class and economic realities. Particularly relevant to Italy is the story of coffee’s arrival through Venetian pharmacies and its sanctioning by papal bull after a brief controversy about it being the “wine of the heretics.” An excellent read, the text is supplemented by a large number of period images. Translated by David Jacobson. (Vintage, 1993). ZN

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Posted November 6, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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