Cover image for Apples of gold in settings of silver : stories of dinner as a work of art
Apples of gold in settings of silver : stories of dinner as a work of art
Young, Carolin C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 364 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX737 .Y68 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Eating is biological," said Carolin Young in an interview with Food & Wine magazine. "Dining is everything beyond that. It's what makes us human." Lavishly illustrated throughout, Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver is a celebration of this philosophy, where the universal impulse to dine elegantly is on exquisite display. In these rich pages, banqueting ascends to the ultimate work of art, engaging all five senses. In thrilling detail, the book travels through ten centuries of European history to tell the stories of twelve legendary dinner parties. These tales have pageantry to spare -- from the lofty ritual of Catholic feast days at Cluny Abbey to the pleasurable voyeurism of Casanova's soupers intimes, seduction dinners, to the food antics of the twentieth-century Surrealists. After all, it is at the table that human beings enact the theater of their lives. "Dining isn't just about food," Young told New York magazine. "It's about the architecture, the ambience, the silver, the porcelain, the people." Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver extends the gracious invitation to meet some of Europe's most fascinating personalities, to sample the food and the music, the wardrobe and etiquette that marked such infamous occasions as Titian's nature-worshipping picnics, Talleyrand's foreign-affairs soirées, and the entertainments of the Vienna Secession, inspired by the time-honored adage, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." In the telling emerge such important developments in the history of dining as the European discovery of porcelain-making techniques, the introduction of the fork, and the arrival of turkeys from the New World. The book presents a voluptuous intermingling of some of the greatest art, music, and theater ever produced at the table. These dozen stories are each a distinct example of how banqueting nurtures our spirits as well as our bodies.

Author Notes

Carolin C. Young earned her B.A. in European history from Oberlin College and was awarded a Royal Society of Arts Diploma from Christie's Education in London. She has done public relations for Christie's, New York, and has researched antique porcelain, silver, and glass for James Robinson, Inc. She lives in New York City, where she lectures on dining history at Sotheby's Institute of Art

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Culinary historian Young commences her survey of banqueting with the provocative observation that composer Richard Wagner, who wanted to create an art that stimulated all the senses, was beaten to the punch several centuries earlier by hosts like master diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, whose exquisite feasts truly involved all the senses. Every theatrical device was used to impress guests: lighting, magic, set design and decoration, and, of course, the fine art of cooking. Moderns viewing elaborate Meissen porcelain tureens and platters in museums forget that, in the eighteenth century, those delicate rococo objects were actually used as service dishes. The book's illustrations show elaborate table settings and spectacular food presentation that even the combined talents of Martha Stewart and the Iron Chef could not begin to rival. These feasts may have been limited to the upper classes of the era, but the skills required to mount them increased the ranks of the artisan classes. An extensive bibliography adds to the value of this encyclopedic text. --Mark Knoblauch

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her introduction, Young, a lecturer on culinary history at Sotheby's, tells us that the soul of any good dinner party resides in the personalities around the table. This collection of essays brings to life the personalities of a dozen meals that she has selected to represent the history of dining in Western Europe from the medieval period to just before World War II. Art, literature, a variety of familiar people, political history, industrial design, juicy historical gossip, and architecture are all shown to have both influenced and been influenced by this collection of meals, which range from an intimate dinner between Casanova and his mistress to the Florentine wedding banquet that made Maria de Medici the queen of France. Young provides a wealth of information in an entertaining, well-written style and supports her work with extensive notes and a lengthy selected bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Mary A. Russell, New Hampshire State Lib., Concord (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. XIII
Chapter 1 Dining with God: Peter the Venerable and the Monks at Cluny, Burgundy, A.D. 1132p. 2
Chapter 2 Friendship: Marsilio Ficino and the Neoplatonists, Villa Careggi, Florence, 7 November 1468p. 18
Chapter 3 Fete Champetre: A Feast of the Gods with Titian, Sansovino, and the Divine Aretino, Venice, 1 August 1540p. 40
Chapter 4 Cementing a Bond: The Wedding Banquet of Maria de' Medici and Henri IV, Florence, 5 October 1600p. 64
Chapter 5 Taking Office: The Coronation of Charles I, London, 2 February 1626p. 88
Chapter 6 Showing Off: Nicolas Fouquet Impresses the King, Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, France, 17 August 1661p. 112
Chapter 7 Insatiable Gluttony: Count Heinrich von Bruhl Dines Alone, Dresden, Mid-Eighteenth Centuryp. 138
Chapter 8 Seduction: Casanova's Souper Intime, Venice, November 1753p. 162
Chapter 9 Diplomacy: Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord at Table, Paris, Early Nineteenth Centuryp. 190
Chapter 10 Family: Bernard Shaw's Sunday Supper with William Morris and Family, London, July 1884p. 226
Chapter 11 Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die: The Secession Banquet, Vienna, 19 January 1900p. 250
Chapter 12 Shocking the World: Caresse Crosby's Surrealist Picnic, The Moulin de Soleil, Forest of Ermenonville, Early July 1932p. 272
Notes and Creditsp. 297
Select Bibliographyp. 329
Select Discographyp. 357
Photography Creditsp. 359