KITCHEN AND TABLE: A Bedside History of Eating in the Western World by Colin Clair

KITCHEN AND TABLE: A Bedside History of Eating in the Western World

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The subtitle would seem to limit the scope of this oddly fascinating book, which is actually far more than indicated. Food-manners -- equipment, all this is part of social history, of religion, economics and politics. The earliest knowledge comes from archaeological discoveries in Egypt, in Biblical records, in frescoes uncovered in Mycenae and elsewhere, in implements and utensils found in Pompeii. Rome left its written records of banquets and of numerous sumptuary laws. And one learns of the diversity of dishes in the ancient world; of the pomp and ceremony, albeit the limited range of food stuffs in the middle ages; of the etiquette of service in feudal days. Fish was all important and ways were found to preserve it. The Italians first developed gourmet cooking- and exported it to France with Catherine de Medici. Restaurants grew in number and flourished. The New World introduced such things as maize and the potato and pumpkin and Indian ways of using them. The bourgeois age of Pepys and Evelyn, later of Addison, left permanent records of food and manners- and even of some utensils that previsioned the modern kitchen, such as the first pressure cooker. This was the heyday of the hawker, the costermonger and the pieman, while in France culinary genius flourished and gluttony triumphed. Final chapters record the laying of the table, the types of kitchens, the notable cooks and cookbooks.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1965
Publisher: Abelard-Schuman