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Is bacon fat meat? Chicken? Cheese? Eggs? All of these have been considered, at different times, meat or meatless foods by the Catholic Church. The eighteenth century historian Le Grand d'Aussy included several long passages on the complex history of Catholic fasting in France in his master work on the history of French food. Taken together, they explore the often surprising twists and turns this practice took from the time of the Franks to his own. Throughout the Old Regime, the distinction between meat and fast-day foods was central to French dining; the exact definitions, however, of what was meat and what was not and what days were to be observed as fast days shifted dramatically over this period. Le Grand, a former Jesuit, was particularly well-qualified to discuss this issue and does so with authority and wit, citing innumerable older sources in a rare, comprehensive study of this practice in France. He does so however across chapters on poultry, fish, eggs and dairy and seasonings (sometimes shamelessly digressing from a chapter's subject to look more closely at this issue). These passages have been newly translated and brought together here for a work sure to interest those with an interest in the history of French food or Catholicism itself.
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About the Author
Pierre Jean-Baptiste Legrand d’Aussy (1737-1800) was a French historian who left one of the major works on the history of French food as well as detailed studies of early French poetry.