Wednesday, January 17, 2007
CSFC: Event Timothy Tomasik
Assistant Professor of French
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Cuisine by the Cut of One's Trousers:
Cookbook Marketing in Renaissance France
February 23rd, 2007
Time and Place TBA
Tim Tomasik, Assistant Professor of French at Valparaiso University in Indiana, holds a Ph.D in Romance languages from Harvard University. Professor Tomasik’s work focuses on late medieval and early modern French literature with a particular emphasis on culinary discourses (cookbooks, natural histories, and dietetic treatises). An active professional translator, Professor Tomasik is currently working on a critical edition and translation of the early sixteenth-century morality play, La Condamnation de Banquet.
“’Cuisine by the Cut of One’s Trousers’: Cookbook Marketing in Renaissance France”
Contrary to what some culinary historians have been asserting up until the last decade or so, the French Renaissance did actually have a thriving trade in homegrown cookbooks. The late medieval French cookbook known as the Viandier galvanized a reappraisal of early modern cuisine by updating its culinary repertoire and making its text more accessible to an increasingly wider audience. This tactic clearly resonated with the reading public because the printed Viandier became a culinary bestseller, appearing in at least twenty-five printed editions between 1486 and 1615. By strategically “marketing” cookbooks to the widest audience possible, the various printers of the Viandier were undoubtedly endeavoring to ensure a profitable market share. However, in so doing, they made available to modest tables the means to imagine if not produce the meals of a cultural and culinary elite. Beginning in the 1530’s, a new generation of cookbooks appears in France that synthesizes the innovations of earlier sixteenth-century texts. Between 1536 and 1627 appear twenty-seven editions of a cookbook associated with the printer Pierre Sergent, bearing witness to the literate public’s appetite for works of cookery. Title pages, woodcuts, and prefatory remarks demonstrate how these cookbooks were being marketed to a wide spectrum of social stations and potential readerships, each representing contradictory desires. Such an analysis demonstrates that banquets are not limited to an elite sector of society. Rather, the Renaissance banquet is a space whose contours can be adapted to fit a number of occasions, accommodating diners from all strata of society.