Article is a review essay of Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table by Massimo Montanari and Food and Identity in England, 1540-1640: Eating to Impress by Paul S. Lloyd.
In the last few decades, food history has gone from being an unusual side-study viewed as outside the realm of academic history proper to one of the most popular sub-fields of social, economic, and cultural history – if not a field in its own right. Pre-modern historians have welcomed this development as one that expands our limited sources by opening new ones to us and providing us another method for reexamining old ones. At the same time, however, our dearth of evidence means that all and every sort of source material must be used in our study. And, of course, food history itself is a broad concept that can encompass history of cuisine, history of diet, a subfield of economic history, and much more. Thus, food history can be simultaneously a brilliant, insightful use of intellectual acuity to make scant sources speak, revealing precious details of pre-modern daily life and have a tendency toward disorganization. Food and Identity in England, 1540-1640: Eating to Impress, by Paul S. Lloyd, and Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table, by Massimo Montanari, both exhibit these dual tendencies. Both make insightful contributions to pre-modern social and cultural history, demonstrating the way in which food shapes and is shaped by social class. But both also provide cautionary tales of the pitfalls of the unwary food historian and serve as examples of changes in the modern publishing world.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bobbi_sutherland/3/