Eating Right in the Renaissance

Eating Right in the Renaissance

Eating Right in the Renaissance

Eating Right in the Renaissance

Synopsis

"Albala 's engaging tour through the host of Renaissance dietary theories reminds us that our preoccupations with food and susceptibility to cranky advice about nutrition are nothing new. This is superior scholarship delivered with a light touch."--Rachel Laudan, author of "The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage

"This stimulating work is an important contribution to social and especially medical-dietetic history. Albala is the first to explore in detail the role of dietetic literature in the development of the European nation state. His book is a pleasure to read."--Melitta Weiss Adamson, editor of "Food in the Middle Ages

Excerpt

It would be almost impossible for a person living today to escape the influence of nutritional science. A vast array of dietary guidelines is promulgated through every media and on every item of packaged food. Whether or not these rules are followed, the terms of the discussion are all too familiar: calories, saturated fat, vitamins and minerals, cholesterol. We all know that many of us are intensely diet and health conscious. It would probably come as a surprise, though, to learn that five hundred years ago literate Europeans were equally obsessed with eating right. Then, as now, a veritable industry of experts churned out diet books for an eager and concerned public. From the 1470s to 1650 there was an immense outpouring of dietary literature from printing presses in Italy, then issuing from France, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and as far afield as Transylvania. Nutrition guides were consistent best-sellers. About one hundred titles in dozens of editions, revisions, and translations plainly attest to the topic's popularity. Some dietary works were tiny handbooks written in the vernacular for a lay audience, others were massive Latin tomes clearly intended for practicing physicians or scholarly dilettantes. The authors of these books may have been physicians, philosophers, poets, or even politicians. Anyone with an interest in food appears to have felt qualified to pen his own nutritional guide. This book examines these dietary works in detail and offers a view of what it meant to eat well and be healthy in the Renaissance.

This book also focuses on the major differences among dietary au-

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