Culture of the Fork

Culture of the Fork Cover

Culture of the Fork

A Brief History of Everyday Food and Haute Cuisine in Europe

By Giovanni Rebora; Albert Sonnenfeld (Translator)

Columbia University Press, Hardcover, 9780231121507, 224pp.

Publication Date: October 17, 2001


We know where he went, what he wrote, and even what he wore, but what in the world did Christopher Columbus eat? The Renaissance and the age of discovery introduced Europeans to exotic cultures, mores, manners, and ideas. Along with the cross-cultural exchange of Old and New World, East and West, came new foodstuffs, preparations, and flavors. That kitchen revolution led to the development of new utensils and table manners. Some of the impact is still felt--and tasted--today.

Giovanni Rebora has crafted an elegant and accessible history filled with fascinating information and illustrations. He discusses the availability of resources, how people kept from starving in the winter, how they farmed, how tastes developed and changed, what the lower classes ate, and what the aristocracy enjoyed.

The book is divided into brief chapters covering the history of bread, soups, stuffed pastas, the use of salt, cheese, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, the arrival of butter, the quest for sugar, new world foods, setting the table, and beverages, including wine and tea. A special appendix, "A Meal with Columbus," includes a mini-anthology of recipes from the countries where he lived: Italy, Portugal, Spain, and England.

Entertaining and enlightening, "Culture of the Fork" will interest scholars of history and gastronomy--and everyone who eats.

About the Author
Rebora is professor of economic history and chair of the Department of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Genoa.

Massimo Montanari is professor of medieval history and history of food at the University of Bologna. He has achieved wide recognition for his many searching and thoroughly researched studies of culinary traditions. Since 1979 he has authored and coauthored more than a dozen books, including "Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History" (Columbia), "Food: A Culinary History" (Columbia), "Famine and Plenty: The History of Food in Europe," and the recent "Bologna la Grassa,"

Albert Sonnenfeld, longtime professor of Romance languages and literature at Princeton and Chevalier Professor of French/Italian at the University of Southern California, is series editor for Columbia University Press's Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History, which has published his translations of Giovanni Rebora's "Culture of the Fork" and Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari's "Food: A Culinary History,"