Cuisine by the Cut of One's Trousers: Cookbook Marketing in Early Modern France

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Food & History


Contrary to what some culinary historians have asserted up until the last two decades, the French Renaissance did actually have a thriving trade in homegrown cookbooks. Printed editions of the Viandier, the French translation of Platina’s De honesta voluptate et valetudine, and the Sergent family of cookbooks inundated the sixteenth-century French print market for works on cookery. By analysing title pages, woodcuts, and prefatory remarks, this article suggests that cookbooks were being marketed to a wide spectrum of social stations and potential readerships, each representing contradictory desires. The early modern French banquet is thus a space whose contours can be adapted to fit a number of occasions, accommodating diners from all strata of society.