APPLES OF GOLD IN SETTINGS OF SILVER: Stories of Dinner as Work of Art

Carolin Young, Author . Simon & Schuster $35 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2202-0

Feasting on history, Young, a lecturer in culinary history at Sotheby's, draws on a range of sources to provide 12 historic dinner parties. Ranging from the Abbey at Cluny in 1132 to the Surrealist environment in 1932, she encompasses historic events and personalities from the last millennium. Based on the concept of a book of hours, the text finds Young dividing the meals into 12 reasons why we dine; the author selects historical occasions to showcase these motives from "Cementing a Bond," as exemplified by the wedding banquet of Maria de'Medici and Henry IV in Florence on October 5, 1600, to "Seduction at the Table," as illustrated by Casanova's Souper Intime, Venice, November 1753. Carefully drawing together the music, literature and personalities from contemporary descriptions, she paints vivid pictures of life as it was lived in these varying eras. Differentiating between dining and eating, Young evocatively presents the food as part of a whole experience; while she discusses certain foods and their preparations, she also references cookbooks of that period, emphasizing the settings both historical and physical, including the development of eating utensils. By the end, each chapter becomes a wonderful, individual snapshot of the past, each linked to the other by the common theme of food and dining. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/21/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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