Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

A DINNER party in Suffolk has been filmed for television, and the diners have been properly excoriated by the press for coming up with their own opinions rather than journalists'. This unforgivable moral lapse begs a large and important question: what are the right things to talk about at dinner? The Greek dinner-party expert Athenaeus (c. AD 200) has the answer. In the 15 surviving books of his Deipnosophistai (`The Gastronomers'), he presents us with a well-ordered checklist of suitable topics of conversation.

The talk concentrates on four main areas: food, drink, music and sex. Everything there is to be known about cooks and cooking - Greek, Persian, Sicilian, Roman and others - is extensively discussed. Food is submitted to intensive analysis for its various properties, healthy and otherwise, and elaborate and strange banquets from all over the known world are described. Kitchen equipment is considered (there is a fine passage where a world is imagined in which the food cooks and serves itself, and then the dishes wash themselves up). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.