Archive for the ‘Roman’ Tag

Bober – Art, Culture and Cuisine   Leave a comment

Art, Culture and Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy (Phyllis Pray Bober). Bober’s overriding theory – that there is a link between cooking and more generalised cultural trends – can politely go stew. It is presumably right though it is difficult to demonstrate for many of the periods that the author is dealing with. However, this book, which brings together her musings on food from prehistory to the late Gothic style, makes for one of the best general introductions  to food history: and all written by a wise, opinionated and witty scholar whose love affair with food began in her mother’s kitchen in the entre-duex-guerres and continued in the 1960s at NYU with her food recreation workshops. Italian content includes a remarkable rant on the origins of pasta and the question of continuity from Roman to modern Italian cooking. Her final promise to write ‘in a subsequent volume…’ was not, unfortunately, kept. Death intervened in 2002. (University of Chicago 2002). SY

Posted December 1, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Purcell – ‘The way we used to eat’   Leave a comment

Purcell, Nicholas ‘The way we used to eat: diet, community and history at Rome’, American Journal of Philology 124 (2003), 329-358. The author looks not at Roman foodways but rather at Romans in the late Republic and early Empire looking back at their own historical (and more often legendary) foodways: boxes within boxes, fleas upon fleas… Enjoy Roman writers – including Pliny and most prominently Varro – musing on pre-imperial Roman simplicity, where acorn-belching Romans (glandem ructante marito Juv vi) feasted on pork and roasted turnips. SY

Posted November 21, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Andrews – ‘Acclimatization of Citrus Fruits’   Leave a comment

Andrews, Alfred ‘Acclimatization of Citrus Fruits in the Mediterranean Region’, Agricultural History 35 (1961), 35-46. The author essentially offers a corrective to Samuel Tolkowsky’s classic study of citrus fruits: Hesperides. Andrews covers the arrival of citrus fruits in the Levant, in Greece, in Egypt and in Italy. For the last he makes an overwhelming case that citrus trees were already being grown in the peninsula by the first century AD, leaving their traditional carriers, the Sicilian Arabs, somewhat out in the cold. SY

Posted November 15, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Steel — Hungry City   Leave a comment

Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives (Carolyn Steel) – This excellent book discusses a relatively overlooked aspect of the wider food sphere: how supplying cities with food affects urban planning and the shape of cities. This summation is an oversimplification of the books content, as Steel discusses many of the contemporary, “hot-button” issues like organic food, supermarket vs. mom&pop stores, and obesity. For students of Italian food history, the discussion of the Roman conception of civilized vs. wild (the cultivated areas around a city, or ager, as opposed to the uncultivated wilderness, the saltus) and how it changed with the “barbarian” invasions is particularly valuable.

Posted October 19, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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Ades ‘Vergil (Or Aeneas) et Pizza’   Leave a comment

Ades, John I. ‘Vergil (Or Aeneas) et Pizza’, The Classical Journal 64 (1969), 268. A jocular one-page attempt to find the origins of pizza in book VII of the Aeneid where Aeneas and his men eat their ‘tables’ – food had been spread out on pastry bases. ‘There you have it: wheaten base – slender cakes – fateful circles of crust crowned with a mixture of food – in this case, fruit, but the dearth of pepperoni in those innocent years can easily account for this culinary felicity’. SY

Posted September 1, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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