Banquet: dining in late Renaissance Europe

by Ken Albala

From the publisher: 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 haute cuisine. This development involved increasing use of 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.

Ken Albala is a professor of history and food studies at the University of the Pacific. His books include Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession and Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Chinese.

University of Illinois Press, 2017