Cheese, Pears, and History in a Proverb

Cheese, Pears, and History in a Proverb

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Overview

Cheese, Pears, and History in a Proverb by Massimo Montanari

"Do not let the peasant know how good cheese is with pears" goes the extremely well known yet hard to decipher saying. Intrigued by this proverb, which has endured since the Middle Ages, Massimo Montanari launches an adventurous history of its origins and utility.

Perusing archival cookbooks, agricultural and dietary treatises, literary works, and anthologies of beloved proverbs, Montanari finds in the nobility's demanding palettes and delicate stomachs a deep love of cheese with pears from medieval times onward. At first, cheese and its visceral, earthy pleasures was treated as the food of Polyphemus, the uncivilized man-beast. The pear, on the other hand, became the symbol of ephemeral, luxuriant pleasure& mdash;the indulgence of the social elite. Joined together, cheese and pears embodied an exclusive savoir faire, especially as the notion of taste as a natural phenomenon evolved into a cultural attitude. Montanari's delectable history straddles the line between written and oral tradition, between economic and social relations, and it thrills in the vivid power of mental representation. He ultimately discovers that the ambiguous proverb, so wrapped up in history, is not a repository of shared wisdom but a rich locus of social conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231526937
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 09/22/2010
Series: Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 539 KB

About the Author

Massimo Montanari is professor of medieval history and the history of food at the Institute of Paleography and Medieval Studies, University of Bologna. Well-known for his searching and thoroughly researched studies of culinary traditions, he has authored and coauthored more than a dozen books, including Food Is Culture; Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History; Food: A Culinary History; and Famine and Plenty: The History of Food in Europe.

Beth A. Brombert is the author of Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat and the critically acclaimed biography Christina: Portraits of a Princess. She has also translated the work of Francis Ponge.

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