Eating Right in the Renaissance

By Ken Albala | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Medicine and Cuisine

There can be no doubt at this point that the Renaissance genre of dietary regimens reflects both medical and culinary concerns about food. But the question remains whether the principles of humoral physiology actually informed eating habits, or whether dietary authors merely accommodated current culinary practices into their medical theories. Ultimately, this is a chicken or egg dilemma. This chapter does not make a systematic attempt to claim priority for one or the other but rather explains the relationship between the two, which was sometimes coincidentally similar and sometimes plainly antagonistic. The points of intersection and the major differences between medicine and cuisine will be made clearer by looking closely at how dieticians suggested food should be prepared. Examining whether preparation techniques match what they perceived to be standard usage and the ways they approved or disapproved of contemporary customs should make the relationship between theory and practice more vivid.

Although it might seem reasonable merely to describe recipes found in cookbooks or dishes described by contemporary accounts of banquets in terms of the basic principles of nutrition, this would be a mistake. As we have seen, especially in periods 2 and 3 (latter sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), dietary authors were usually hostile to what they considered the grossly extravagant and unruly habits of courtiers. We should not expect, therefore, any real agreement about cooking among dietary regimens and cookbooks. For period 1 authors, who lacked this

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Eating Right in the Renaissance
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • California Studies in Food and Culture *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Note on Spelling ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Overview of the Genre 14
  • Chapter 2 - Humors, Digestion, and the Physiology of Nutrition 48
  • Chapter 3 - Qualities, Substance, and Virtues 78
  • Chapter 4 - External Factors 115
  • Chapter 5 - Food and the Individual 163
  • Chapter 6 - Food and Class 184
  • Chapter 7 - Food and Nation 217
  • Chapter 8 - Medicine and Cuisine 241
  • Postscript - The End of a Genre and Its Legacy 284
  • Bibliography 295
  • Index 309
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