Archive for the ‘spices’ Tag

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

Posted November 6, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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The Medieval Kitchen — Redon et al.   Leave a comment

The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy (Odiel Redon, Françoise Sabban, Silvano Serventi) – Recipe books purporting to recreate medieval or Renaissance cooking for the reader are usually lacking in one or more or the following categories: a reasonable historical introduction and academic commentary, a discussion of class and meals (i.e. that recipes were usually for the rich), and an acknowledgement of the inevitable clash of tastes between a medieval food sensibility and our modern one. Luckily The Medieval Kitchen avoid all three of these traps, with its winning combination of recipes from various medieval sources (Maestro Martino appears frequently) and commentary from food scholars. A glance at the entry for “blancmange in Catalan style” shows the authors’ skill at adapting an ancient recipe to modern tastes while explaining that there was no canonical blancmange.

Posted October 14, 2010 by zachmon in Uncategorized

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