Cover image for Food in early modern Europe
Food in early modern Europe
Albala, Ken, 1964-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 260 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GT2853.E85 A43 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Rarely do we read about the roles of food in history. Yet its study offers us a humanizing look at those who lived before us. This unique book examines food's importance during the massive evolution of Europe following the Middle Ages. It was a time when even forks and table manners were remarkable and new. Food became a cardinal concern in explorations of the New World, as well as a fundamental element of global trade. Agricultural revolution gave rise to new farming methods. Science illuminated diet and nutrition. Food historian Ken Albala has written the perfect book for students and other readers interested in the myriad aspects of food in Early Modern Europe.

This book answers such questions as: Why did people toil and travel for certain foods, such as spices, when they were already surrounded by an abundance of edible plants at home? How did foods fit in the ritual life of the ordinary villager? Why were people expected to avoid meat for long periods? Why were nobles and peasants expected to eat different food than the lower classes? How did cooking methods differ from our own? This guide also includes many period recipes, never before available in English, along with evocative illustrations and a timeline.

Author Notes

KEN ALBALA is Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. He specializes in food history and is the author of Eating Right in the Renaissance (2001).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Historian Albala (Univ. of the Pacific) explores the complex and interrelated changes that took place in the production and consumption of food in Europe roughly between 1504 and 1800, from first contact with the New World to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. During this period, new foods from the Americas first reached Europe; agriculture and animal husbandry were substantively transformed from subsistence activities to businesses; forks and table manners were introduced; regional cuisines developed among European upper classes (little in the book concerns the food of commoners); and new cooking techniques and culinary ideals were created. Albala writes with authority and knowledge (especially in his discussion of historic cookbooks), but information is less systematic and comprehensive than the food scholar would want. The space given to 61 recipes interspersed throughout the text would be better given to filling in the many gaps. There are no informative footnotes or bibliography other than an English-only suggested readings. There also are a number of relatively minor points with which specialists might take issue, but the most significant deficiency of the book is its complete omission of both Scandinavia and the whole of Eastern Europe. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Public libraries and undergraduate collections. W. G. Lockwood emeritus, University of Michigan

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Time Linep. ix
Introductionp. xiii
1. Food and Peoplep. 1
Populationp. 1
Agriculture and Land Tenuresp. 7
Trade and Marketsp. 14
World Trade and Colonial Empiresp. 17
2. Ingredientsp. 21
Grainsp. 21
Legumesp. 27
Vegetablesp. 29
Root Vegetablesp. 33
Leafy Vegetablesp. 36
Herbsp. 39
Spicesp. 44
Fruitsp. 49
Nutsp. 55
Condimentsp. 57
Meatp. 62
Fowlp. 67
Fishp. 71
Shellfish, Molluscs and Other Creatures of the Seap. 75
Dairyp. 77
Beveragesp. 79
3. Cooking and the Food Professionsp. 89
Procedures, Equipment and Utensilsp. 89
Food Service Professionalsp. 107
Dining Establishmentsp. 112
4. Cuisine by Regionp. 115
Italyp. 118
Spain and Portugalp. 141
Francep. 151
Englandp. 164
The Netherlandsp. 184
Germanyp. 188
5. Religion and Foodp. 193
The Medieval Inheritancep. 193
The Reformationsp. 199
The Catholic Reformationp. 204
The Enlightenment and The Great Awakeningp. 207
The Jewsp. 209
6. Diet and Nutritionp. 213
Humoral Pathologyp. 214
Paracelsian Chemistryp. 223
Iatromechanics and Other Schools of Thoughtp. 225
7. Food in Literature and Related Food Genresp. 231
Mealtimesp. 231
Food Fantasyp. 234
Manners and Moralsp. 237
Food Farcep. 240
Food Confessionsp. 241
Food in Fictionp. 242
Conclusionp. 245
Suggested Further Readingsp. 247
Subject Indexp. 251
Recipe Indexp. 259