[Sca-cooks] Ken Albala's Eating Right in the Renaissance

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 16 11:43:27 PST 2010

I haven't gotten that deeply into the book yet, but Albala is essentially asking the same questions you are. :-) 

I'll have to dig up an interesting quote he used in the introduction, from a French text from the mid-1500s, where the writer comments that people at table ask the physician whether this food is good for them, or that food is good for them, and don't take the physician's advice but use the discussion as entertainment while eating. That reminds me of the conferences I've been to, where people will chat about Atkins vs. South Beach vs. Weight Watchers, while eyeing up (or indulging) in the dessert buffet.

Albala does discuss at length humoral theories and the switch from the earlier periods of the 1300s, in which recipes and theories and texts of the Arabs were popular, to the 1500s, where the emphasis began to be placed on the classical Greek theories and texts. And just like today, there were scads of books on "proper" diets, so the amount of advice out there was pretty bewildering.

Adelisa di Salerno

>I haven't read the book, but any book that says "You should do it this
>way" automatically shows that all people are NOT currently doing it
>that way and they're trying to persuade people to change.
>I've been wondering about the humours that way lately, how many people
>followed that theory?  How closely?  Where & when?  Big questions :-)
>On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 1:00 PM, Christiane
><christianetrue at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> I picked this up at the MIT bookstore back in October, and just started reading it last night. To say it gives me a lot of food for thought about existing recipes and what our personas might have preferred in food is an understatement.
>> However, my thoughts also include, "Yes, they may have been told to eat this or that, and it was best for them, but really, how many great rulers and merchants told their physicians and cooks, 'I am not eating any of that, I don't care if it calms my choler/is more stimulating because I am phlegmatic/rouses me from my melancholy/maintains my sanguinity'? Or, "I don't care what Platina says, the last time I made that dish the way he said, my lord refused to touch it.'" And that gets me wondering exactly how strictly some cooks followed the recipes, and if a dish in Ferrara tasted the same as a dish in Paris or in Palermo.
>> Have any of you read this book? What did you think? Did it change the way you view the extant recipes?
>> YIS,
>> Adelisa di Salerno
>> _______________________________________________
>> Sca-cooks mailing list
>> Sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org
>> http://lists.ansteorra.org/listinfo.cgi/sca-cooks-ansteorra.org

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list