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Eating Right in the Renaissance Hardcover – February 1, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Albala 's engaging tour through the host of Renaissance dietary theories reminds us that our preoccupations with food and susceptibility to cranky advice about nutrition are nothing new. This is superior scholarship delivered with a light touch."-Rachel Laudan, author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage; "This stimulating work is an important contribution to social and especially medical-dietetic history. Albala is the first to explore in detail the role of dietetic literature in the development of the European nation state. His book is a pleasure to read."-Melitta Weiss Adamson, editor of Food in the Middle Ages

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"Albala 's engaging tour through the host of Renaissance dietary theories reminds us that our preoccupations with food and susceptibility to cranky advice about nutrition are nothing new. This is superior scholarship delivered with a light touch."—Rachel Laudan, author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage

"This stimulating work is an important contribution to social and especially medical-dietetic history. Albala is the first to explore in detail the role of dietetic literature in the development of the European nation state. His book is a pleasure to read."—Melitta Weiss Adamson, editor of Food in the Middle Ages
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Product Details

  • Series: California Studies in Food and Culture (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520229479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520229471
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,697,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeremy Fletcher on November 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
To date, the best book I have read on humour theory. Not ha-ha, but the historical idea that the body's natural state is a combination of the four cardinal humours, that food is likewise and how one affects the other.

In a somewhat dry but excellent work, Albala documents and contrasts the various humoural theorists' works from the 1470s to 1650. The author's stated goal is to better understand the workings of the Renaissance mind by its ideas on food, and he does an admirably complete job.
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Ken Albala is a thoroughly charming writer. This short
excursion into the state of renaissance thought is a delight
to read for its charm alone. Underneath the charm is first
an analysis of the humoral theory-a way of making sense of
human variation that stood unquestioned untli Paracelsus and
Montaigne came along to knock it down. According to the theory,
every human is ruled by one of four fluids: melancholic, phlegmatic,
sanguine or choleric. The business of nutrition was to correct
imbalances in the humors which could lead to disease.
(Perhaps we shouldn't write the obituary for humoral theory
too soon. Most modern novels are based on one-sided char-
acterizations that reflect one of those four dispositions.)

There's another layer yet- humoral theory is of interest today
only to the cultural historian. What makes this book important
is that it remindsus of the persistence of Prescriptionism: the
doctrine that food is a medical medium and that one should eat
this and avoid that in order to correct or prevent. Those of us
who think of food as Recreation or as Delight have been tilting
with the Prescriptionists for a very long time.

You'll want your aspiring nutritionalist to read this because
the scolding assured tone of the writers cited will be
alarmingly familiar even if their conclusions sound strange.
(melons are bad for you?) Perhaps we could learn to be just
a bit less sure of ourselves in the light of another age's
vanished assurance.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and
the forthcoming novel bang BANG from Kunati Books.ISBN 9781601640005
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