Anthropologists training to do fieldwork in far-off, unfamiliar places prepare for significant challenges with regard to language, customs, and other cultural differences. However, like other travelers to unknown places, they are often unprepared to deal with the most basic and necessary requirement: food. Although there are many books on the anthropology of food, Adventures in Eating is the first intended to prepare students for the uncomfortable dining situations they may encounter over the course of their careers.
Whether sago grubs, jungle rats, termites, or the pungent durian fruit are on the table, participating in the act of sharing food can establish relationships vital to anthropologists' research practices and knowledge of their host cultures. Using their own experiences with unfamiliar-and sometimes unappealing-food practices and customs, the contributors explore such eating moments and how these moments can produce new understandings of culture and the meaning of food beyond the immediate experience of eating it. They also address how personal eating experiences and culinary dilemmas can shape the data and methodologies of the discipline.
The main readership of Adventures in Eating will be students in anthropology and other scholars, but the explosion of food media gives the book additional appeal for fans of No Reservations and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.
In Banquet at Delmonico’s, Barry Werth draws readers inside the circle of intellectuals, scientists, politicians, businessmen, and clergymen who brought Charles Darwin’s controversial ideas to post-Civil-War America. Each chapter is dedicated to a crucial intellectual encounter, culminating with an exclusive farewell dinner held in English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s honor at the venerable New York restaurant Delmonico’s in 1882. In this thought-provoking and nuanced account, Werth firmly situates social Darwinism in the context of the Gilded Age. Banquet at Delmonico’s is social history at its finest.
The importance of the banquet in the late Renaissance is impossible to overlook. Banquets showcased a host’s wealth and power, provided an occasion for nobles from distant places to gather together, and even served as a form of political propaganda. But what was it really like to cater to the tastes and habits of high society at the banquets of nobles, royalty, and popes? What did they eat and how did they eat it?
In The Banquet, Ken Albala covers the transitional period between the heavily spiced and colored cuisine of the Middle Ages and classical French haut cuisine. This development involved increasing use dairy products, a move toward lighter meats such as veal and chicken, increasing identification of national food customs, more sweetness and aromatics, and a refined aesthetic sense, surprisingly in line with the late Renaissance styles found in other arts.
What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of waffles, of course, but these staples of breakfast bounty also share an evolutionary function: eggs, seeds (from which we derive flour by grinding), and milk have each evolved to nourish offspring. Indeed, ponder the genesis of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you’ll soon realize that everything we eat and drink has an evolutionary history. In Dinner with Darwin, join Jonathan Silvertown for a multicourse meal of evolutionary gastronomy, a tantalizing tour of human taste that helps us to understand the origins of our diets and the foods that have been central to them for millennia—from spices to spirits.
A delectable concoction of coevolution and cookery, gut microbiomes and microherbs, and both the chicken and its egg, Dinner with Darwin reveals that our shopping lists, recipe cards, and restaurant menus don’t just contain the ingredients for culinary delight. They also tell a fascinating story about natural selection and its influence on our plates—and palates. Digging deeper, Silvertown’s repast includes entrées into GMOs and hybrids, and looks at the science of our sensory interactions with foods and cooking—the sights, aromas, and tastes we experience in our kitchens and dining rooms. As is the wont of any true chef, Silvertown packs his menu with eclectic components, dishing on everything from Charles Darwin’s intestinal maladies to taste bud anatomy and turducken.
Our evolutionary relationship with food and drink stretches from the days of cooking cave dwellers to contemporary crêperies and beyond, and Dinner with Darwin serves up scintillating insight into the entire, awesome span. This feast of soup, science, and human society is one to savor. With a wit as dry as a fine pinot noir and a cache of evolutionary knowledge as vast as the most discerning connoisseur’s wine cellar, Silvertown whets our appetites—and leaves us hungry for more.
An insightful map of the landscape of social meals, Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality argues that the ways in which Americans eat together play a central role in social life in the United States. Delving into a wide range of research, Alice P. Julier analyzes etiquette and entertaining books from the past century and conducts interviews and observations of dozens of hosts and guests at dinner parties, potlucks, and buffets. She finds that when people invite friends, neighbors, or family members to share meals within their households, social inequalities involving race, economics, and gender reveal themselves in interesting ways: relationships are defined, boundaries of intimacy or distance are set, and people find themselves either excluded or included.
To read accounts of late medieval banquets is to enter a fantastical world where live lions guard nude statues, gilded stags burst into song, and musicians play from within pies. We can almost hear the clock sound from within a glass castle, taste the fire-breathing roast boar, and smell the rose water cascading in a miniature fountain. Such vivid works of art and performance required collaboration among artists in many fields, as well as the participation of the audience.
A Feast for the Eyes is the first book-length study of the court banquets of northwestern Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Christina Normore draws on an array of artworks, archival documents, chroniclers’ accounts, and cookbooks to re-create these events and reassess the late medieval visual culture in which banquets were staged. Feast participants, she shows, developed sophisticated ways of appreciating artistic skill and attending to their own processes of perception, thereby forging a court culture that delighted in the exercise of fine aesthetic judgment.
Challenging modern assumptions about the nature of artistic production and reception, A Feast for the Eyes yields fresh insight into the long history of multimedia work and the complex relationships between spectacle and spectators.
The banquet gives rise to a special moment when thought and the senses—words and food—enhance each other. Throughout history, the ideal of the symposium has reconciled the angel and the beast in the human, renewing the interdependence between the mouth that speaks and the mouth that eats. Michel Jeanneret's lively book explores the paradigm of the banquet as a guide to significant tendencies in Renaissance Humanist culture and shows how this culture in turn illuminates the tensions between physical and mental pleasures. Ranging widely over French, Italian, German, and Latin texts, Jeanneret not only investigates the meal as a narrative artefact but enquires as well into aspects of sixteenth-century anthropology and aesthetics.
On its initial publication, The Roman Community at Table during the Principate broke new ground with its approach to the integral place of feasting in ancient Roman culture and the unique power of food to unite and to separate its recipients along class lines throughout the Empire. John F. Donahue’s comprehensive examination of areas such as festal terminology, the social roles of benefactors and beneficiaries, the kinds of foods offered at feasts, and the role of public venues in community banquets draws on over three hundred Latin honorary inscriptions to recreate the ancient Roman feast. Illustrations depicting these inscriptions, as well as the food supply trades and various festal venues, bring important evidence to the study of this vital and enduring social practice. A touchstone for scholars, the work remains fresh and relevant.
This expanded edition of Donahue’s work includes significant new material on current trends in food studies, including the archaeology and bioarchaeology of ancient food and drink; an additional collection of inscriptions on public banquets from the Roman West; and an extensive bibliography of scholarship produced in the last ten years. It will be of interest not only to classicists and historians of the ancient world, but also to anthropologists and sociologists interested in food and social group dynamics.
A Lavish Seventeen-Course Meal that Launched a New Age of American Dining
In 1851, fifteen wealthy New Yorkers wanted to show a group of Philadelphia friends just how impressive a meal could be and took them to Delmonico’s, New York’s finest restaurant. They asked Lorenzo Delmonico to “astonish our Quaker City friends with the sumptuousness of our feast,” and assured him that money was no object, as the honor of New York was at stake. They were treated to a magnificent banquet, enjoyed by all. However, not to be outdone, the Philadelphia men invited the New Yorkers to a meal prepared by James W. Parkinson in their city. In what became known as the “Thousand Dollar Dinner,” Parkinson successfully rose to the challenge, creating a seventeen-course extravaganza featuring fresh salmon, baked rockfish, braised pigeon, turtle steaks, spring lamb, out-of-season fruits and vegetables, and desserts, all paired with rare wines and liquors. Midway through the twelve-hour meal, the New Yorkers declared Philadelphia the winner of their competition, and at several times stood in ovation to acknowledge the chef ’s mastery. In The Thousand Dollar Dinner: America’s First Great Cookery Challenge, research historian Becky Libourel Diamond presents the entire seventeen-course meal, course by course, explaining each dish and its history. A gastronomic turning point, Parkinson’s luxurious meal helped launch the era of grand banquets of the gilded age and established a new level of American culinary arts to rival those of Europe.