The Culture of Food in England, 1200-1500
Yale University Press 2016
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in FoodNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 30, 2016 Mark Klobas
Food was central to the lives of people in England during the Middle Ages in ways different than it is today. As Christopher Woolgar reveals in his book The Culture of Food in England, 1200-1500 (Yale University Press, 2016), it had a cultural significance that permeated nearly aspect of their society. Using a vast range of legal, archaeological, and literary sources, he explains what the English ate during the late Middle Ages, how they ate it, and what their food meant to them. The choices of food available to people typically varied based on wealth and locale, helping to define the class and status of their consumers within English society. Yet Woolgar shows that food often served as a form of connection as well, with the experience of eating within the context of elaborate settings such as celebratory feasts was an important experience of bonding within and between various groups. Together these various choices and settings gave foods and their consumption a particular social and cultural significance that defined the lives of the people who ate them as peasants, townspeople, clergy or elites.