Dear imaginary readers,
since I started my PhD on stable isotopes analysis of remains from medieval Sicily, I read a lot of books dedicated to food and cuisine in the middle ages.
For this reason I decided to start writing about them, and I will start with the one that is currently sitting on my desk. The title is “The Medieval Kitchen. A social History with Recipes” by Hannele Klemettila.
The most impressive feature of the books are the beautiful images, about 200, that offer to the reader an immediate vivid representation of medieval culture of food and eating, at least among aristocratic courts.
The books unfold in ten chapters, at the end of which there is a section where a menu for a Medieval style supper is suggested together with medieval recipes from modern cooks, for the readers who wants to put theory into practice.
For me the positive pretty much stop here. There are not clear references to documents and archaeological contexts, and there is no mention of the everyday food consumption and habits of what we may call villains. The focus is on the upper class part of the society that it is not the category in which the remains I am studying are likely to fall in. Also it is worth to mention that my research is trying to determine the effect of changes in regime on common people’s diet customs, so my disappointment is biased.
Overall I think this is a good didactic book, that is worth to be read if you are interested in a general taste of medieval cuisine in Europe.