Cooking and Eating in Renaissance Italy: From Kitchen to Table

Katherine McIver. Rowman & Littlefield, $38 (216p) ISBN 978-1-4422-2718-7
A professor emerita of art history at the University of Alabama, McIver sets her culinary history in the late-medieval period and concludes in the 1600s. The author explores the roles and duties of cook, steward, under cook, and apprentice. She takes readers through upper- and middle-class kitchens, pantries, wine cellars, and dining spaces. McIver cites historical documents to highlight how favored foods were prepared and served. Despite the strength of McIver’s many factual account, the book may disappoint the general reader. The large cast of characters is overwhelming, and the textbook style, with each chapter beginning with an introduction detailing what’s to follow, may grate on a non-academic audience. Nevertheless, McIver’s research is impressive. She does a does a good job recounting culinary changes across time, such as how, in the 16th century, a festive meal’s “sweet pastries, candied fruit, confectioneries, and sweet wines” were replaced by a cold salad course; her descriptions of wedding feasts and banquets are also remarkable, especially the one held in honor of Emperor Charles V in 1536. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/24/2014
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 218 pages - 978-1-4422-2719-4
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