Reading Early Modern Food: A Review Article

    When it comes to the study of food in early modern culture, historians have led the way. For example, Ken Albala has produced monographs on influential culinary phenomena: his first book Eating Right in the Renaissance (2002) provided the reader with a detailed study of attitudes to bodily health via references to food and medicine in early modern dietary literature, whilst his second Food in Early Modern Europe (2003), written for a non-specialist audience, is an impressively broad-ranging analysis of how food has been grown, the significance of medicine and religion in food, the role of food practitioners, and what ingredients have generally been used. More recently he has considered the importance of dining amongst the elite in The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe (2007). The agricultural historian, Joan Thirsk, has also done important work in this area, in particular her recent monograph on the topic, Food in Early Modern England: Phases, Fads, Fashions 1500-1760 (Thirsk 2007). There have been numerous collections of essays, which focus either wholly or partly on food and culinary matters in the early modern period, for example Banquetting Stuffe: The Fare and Social Background of the Tudor and Stuart Banquet  and Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present (Wilson 1991; Flandrin et al. 1999). Reference works, for example those in the Oxford Companion series, and books written to accompany museum-exhibitions on the history of food and drink have also provided invaluable resources for literary scholars interested in the history of food (Davidson & Jaine 2006; Robinson & Harding 2006; Thirsk 1999; Johnston 1999). Other studies, monographs and individual chapters from larger collections, have considered the history of a particular food through the centuries, such as sugar, samphire, herring and salt ( Mintz 1985; Spencer 1995; Black & Bain 1995; Kurlansky 2002) and there have also been studies focusing on the history of alcohol, for example Richard W. Unger's Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (2007) and Judith Bennet's study of female brewers Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 (1996).

Literary Criticism on Related Topics

    In early modern literary criticism we find numerous studies that are adjacent to the subject of food, for example Elena Levy-Navarro's The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late Modernity: Body Image in Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and Skelton (2008); Nancy Gutierrez's 'Shall She Famish Then?' Female Food Refusal in Early Modern England (2003); David F. Hoeniger's Medicine and Shakespeare in the English Renaissance (1992); and Edward Berry's Shakespeare and the Hunt: A Cultural and Social Study (2001). Also important in this context is the work that has been done by Natasha Korda and Wendy Wall on gender, specifically on the historical role of women in the preparation and selling of food. Wall's study includes analysis of household guides and cookery books specifically aimed at women, as well as the politics of cleaning in Shakespeare and household physic in Francis Beaumont's Knight of the Burning Pestle (Wall 2002). She also attends to the kinds of food that women were encouraged to produce, specifically dairy products, and highlights the violent nature of work in an early modern kitchen (Wall 2002). Natasha Korda has focused on gender and property in Shakespeare from a feminist perspective, including a nuanced account of coverture, the legal subordination of wives to husbands, showing that conduct books encouraged women to claim authority over the domestic arena (Korda 2002). Korda has also written about the perceived promiscuity of women who sold food on the streets of London, comparing Hamlet's Ophelia to "the ubiquitous herb-wives of London" (Korda 2008, 134). Receipt (or recipe) books provide important insights into the lives of middle- and upper-rank women in the early modern period, and here we move closer to the study of food itself since these documents also tell us about the meals available in early modern households; publications by, amongst others, Karen Hess and Elizabeth Spiller, have made such materials more accessible to those working in this area (Hess 1996; Spiller 2008a; Spiller 2008b). Also of interest is Timothy Thomasik's translation of volume two of The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel De Certeau, with Luce Giard and Pierre Mayol, a work that is primarily concerned with the cultural significance of eating, specifically the behaviours exhibited around food and its philosophical function (Certeau, Giard & Mayol 1998). These studies reveal the interdisciplinary nature of much of the criticism coming from those early modern scholars working on food-related topics, with a distinct cross-over between historical document, medical tract, didactic prose work, and dramatic text. 

    In his review of Stanley Wells' latest monograph, Shakespeare, Sex and Love, Robert Maslen refers to "the myopic obsession with the body that has dominated recent early modern studies", an obsession Well's avoids, but one that is evident in food-related writing on Jonson (Maslen 2010). Of course the body comes into the analysis of food, not least the early modern belief in humoral theory, but in some criticism the body takes centre-stage whilst that which it consumes is left waiting in the wings. Bruce Boehrerís monograph The Fury in Menís Gullets: Ben Jonson and the Digestive canal deals with manners when dining, conviviality, and bodily disorders, all of which are related to food, of course, but tell us little about early modern attitudes to the actual foodstuffs that recur throughout his work; indeed, Boehrer seems more interested in the digestion of food and human waste, excrement, than food itself. Similarly, in Gail Kern Paster's monograph The Body Embarrassed Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, alongside other City Comedies, is discussed in the context of incontinence, specifically female bladder incontinence, and The Alchemist in the context of genital exposure (Paster 1993, 23-24, 34-49; 143-62).

    Other Jacobean dramatists have also attracted critics writing on food-related topics, for example Peter Stallybrass's essay on Jacobean theatre and The Revenger's Tragedy, although here too the focus was on the body (1991); informed by psychoanalytic theory, Stallybrass divides his attention between the significance of the kiss and eating in the play but concentrates specifically on the mouth and tongue. Karen Britland considers drinking in Shakespeare and John Marston's The Wonder of Women, or The Tragedie of Sophonisba but is mainly interested in the link she perceives between female hospitality and death, with emphasis on the female body (Britland 2004). Michelle O'Callaghan's essay, in the same collection discusses Jonson and others in the context of the Mitre and the Mermaid taverns, and the dramatization of these taverns on stage, but her primary focus is the societies the taverns attracted (O'Callaghan 2004).

    Interest in the body by theorists and theoretically-informed critics is nothing new: Freud drew conclusions about how the body and its effusions, specifically excrement, relate to our desire to acquire wealth (Freud 1959), and Marx noted throughout his writing the priority that must be given to satisfying the belly. More recently, Renaissance critics have made use of feminist theorists on the body such as Luce Irigaray (Krier & Harvey 2004). However it seems clear that the main distinction between critics writing about the body and those writing about food is that where the former tend to theorize on facts already acquired, the latter tend to be interested in discovering new facts, for example Albala's interest in hitherto neglected dietary literature in Eating Right in the Renaissance and his exploration of how early modern recipes work out when followed by a modern cook (in his essay from the 2010 collection Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare, reviewed below). Elsewhere, critics explore references to food that have been glossed-over in previous commentaries; where critics writing about the body focus as much on the critics before them as the literary work under discussion, the best writing by those working on food tends to focus on what has remained unsaid about the literature itself.

Literary Criticism on Food: Jonson and Others

    Until relatively lately, interest amongst literary scholars in the subject of food in early modern literature has been fairly sporadic. Caroline Spurgeon did original work tracing conscious and unconscious images in Shakespeare's plays, noting patterns and repetitions in specific plays and comparing Shakespeare's use of imagery with that of his contemporaries such as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson. She observed fascinating image clusters evident in the plays, most notably those involving sugar and candy, coming to the fairly subjective conclusion that that Shakespeare was especially fond of seasoning and that he was horrified by greasy food (Spurgeon 1935, 83-84, 188-189). 

    More recently an important monograph by Chris Meads traces the phenomenon of the banquet in non-Shakespearean drama (2002). Meads' book, published in the Revels Companion Library Series, considers the use and development of banquet scenes by a large number of playwrights, including Thomas Heywood, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, and others. As Mead indicates, the banquet scene became ubiquitous on the early modern stage:

Of the extant tragedies written between 1585 and 1642, thirty-four have banquet scenes, of which six have two banquet scenes. There are sixty-five non tragedies left to us with banquet scenes, of which nine have two banquet scenes. A total of ninety-nine plays containing 114 scenes for which banquets provide the setting, is a substantial body of dramatic texts within which playwrights demonstrated both their inventiveness and their indebtedness to each other. (Meads 2002, 1)

Revealing a debt to the kind of historical analysis of food considered above, and which prevails in much of the best literary criticism on early modern food, Meads traces the significance of banqueting practice in early modern culture and the kinds of food that would be consumed on such occasions. He also explores the literary and cultural sources, many of them classical, that inspired the playwrights, what can be gleaned from stage directions or inferred from dialogue about what actually happened onstage, and the range of foods that were likely to be physically present during a banquet scene. As Meads points out, Kyd's Spanish Tragedy was the first play to establish a link between banquets and revenge and this close association between food and violence, as well as one between food and reconciliation, became a recurring feature in subsequent plays making use of banquet scenes.

    Although Meads' mentions Jonson's use of the banquet scene in act 4 scene 5 of Poetaster (one indicated by dialogue, not stage direction) and Jonson's comments upon dining in his poem "To Penhurst", food in Jonson is not discussed at length. Michael Schoenfeldt's essay, "The Mysteries of Manners, Armes, and Arts": 'Inviting a Friend to Supper' and 'To Penhurst'", considers manners and the hierarchical nature of the relationship between guest and host in the context of the food and wine that will be served (Schoenfeldt 1988); Schoenfeldt makes several interesting observations that pertain to the food itself, noting, for example, the high cost of poultry that a poor Jonson cannot serve, and the fact that Jonson's pastries might be wrapped in unsold copies of his own poems (wrapping food in the leaves from unsold books was a common practice in bakers' shops). It should be no surprise that Bartholomew Fair, with its references to pears, gingerbread and, of course, pork should alert critics to Jonson's preoccupation with food in this play but most, having briefly noted this, move on to consider other topics, for example Barton 1984, 214 and Teague 1985, 46. A recent essay by Tracy Thong concentrates on how the play "uses food as a metaphor to explore the ethical boundaries between eating for sustenance and . . . eating for pleasure" and discusses the implications of the pregnant Win's desire to eat pork (Thong 2008, 288). Referring to a number of early modern sources advising against the consumption of pork, Thong detects in Jonson's satire an attack against those who presume to advise others on their diet as well as those who attempt to regulate the selling of food.

    Other plays by Jonson have also interested the critics. In "Consumption of the World: Reading, Eating and Imitation in Every Man out of his Humour" Terrance Dunford explains references to eating and especially cannibalism in this early comedy (1984, 141). Yet Dunford's main argument is that Every Man Out is a play about books, specifically how its characters read, consume, and imitate the world they find in books. Dunford cites E. Pearlman's point that there is "extraordinary stress on eating in Jonson's work" (Pearlman 1979, 386) and whilst she considers this in a few of his works as part of her interrogation of Edmund Wilson's view that Jonson had 'an anal personality', she quickly moves on to consider the body and specifically Jonson's own large body. Biography is also the focus of Bruce Boehrer's essay "Renaissance Overeating: The Sad Case of Ben Jonson" (a piece he later worked into his monograph, above), suggesting Jonson is a glutton (based on the banquet Jonson describes in his poem "Inviting a Friend to Supper") and the refutation of that claim by Gary Schmidgall, who accused Boehrer of being humourless (Boehrer 1990; Schmidgall & Boehrer 1991, 317-18).

    Closer to the topic of food itself is Cecile Williamson Cary's study of Robert Greene's Elizabethan play Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, which traces the significance of specific foodstuff in this play and other early modern texts including The Revenger's Tragedy and, especially, emblem literature (Williamson 1979). Venison represents "the health and plenty of England", milk is "explicitly connected with virtue" (154), broth "suggests the restorative power of food" (156) and mutton evokes the carnal. As Cary admirably demonstrates, food is used in the play to signal temperance and sin in the context of what it takes to maintain a happy and healthy England. Other essays of note are Margaret B. Bryan's "Food Symbolism in A Woman Killed with Kindness" (1974) and J. A. Cole's "Sunday Dinners and Thursday Suppers: Social and Moral Contexts of the Food Imagery in Women Beware Women" (Cole 1984). For Bryan, Heywood uses food as means of indicating sexual desire and she argues that Frankford, Anne's husband, is a neurotic, repressed homosexual whose invitation that Wendoll 'use my table' is sexually-loaded. Cole suggests that in Middleton's use of food imagery we get "more than just the simple equation of food and sex" since it also signals class difference and social and religious observance (Cole 1984, 86); Cole traces references to specific foods in the play, for example wormwood-water and suckets, the significance of when and where food is consumed, and the social dynamic between provider and consumer. Prefiguring Meads' comprehensive study of the banquet was Donald K. Anderson Jr's "The Heart and the Banquet: Imagery in Ford's 'Tis Pity and The Broken Heart"  which, similar to Bryan's view of Heywood, argues that in these plays Ford "depicts physical love in terms of feast and food" (1962, 211); along the same lines, Anderson's "The Banquet of Love in English Drama (1595-1642)" is a survey of plays where love is equated with banquetry (1964). Although Anderson considers two plays by Ford in his earlier essay, there has been a tendency for critics writing about food in the early modern period to focus on just one play; there are no monographs exclusively on food in Jonson or food in Jacobean drama.

Monographs on Food: Shakespeare and Others

    The first monograph on food in Shakespeare was published only recently (Fitzpatrick 2007); this study considers how a number of plays by Shakespeare engage with the theories put forward in early modern dietaries, prose texts that told the reader what to eat and why, but it by no means exhausted the topic. Before 2007 influential articles, such as those by Maurice Charney and Joseph Candido, tended to consider individual plays (Charney 1960; Candido 1990), whilst other articles and book chapters, for example by Ruth Morse and Janet Adleman, considered feeding that is in some way remarkable or unusual, for example the animalistic, cannibalistic or aggressive (Morse 1983; Adelman 1992). Critics also wrote explicating interesting food-related cruxes in the plays, for example John Dover Wilson argued that Richard III asks for strawberries because, knowing he is allergic to them, he can blame the subsequent rash that develops on witchcraft (Wilson 1957); Juliet Dusinberre claimed we can date As You Like It from Touchstone's reference to pancakes (Dusinberre 2003); R. E. R. Madelaine identified an early modern association between oranges and love, which she claimed explains Claudio's description of Hero as a rotten orange in Much Ado About Nothing (Madelaine 1982); and Gary Taylor explored Touchstone's criticism of Orlando's verse--"I'll rhyme you so eight years together, dinners, and suppers, and sleeping-hours excepted. It is the right butter-women's rank to market" (3.2.94-96)--in the context of attitudes toward women selling food (Taylor 1981).

    2006 saw the publication of Robert Appelbaum's Aguecheek's Beef, Belch's Hiccup, and Other Gastronomic Interjections: Literature, Culture, and Food Among the Early Moderns (). Keeping his eye on what the social historian Norbert Elias has termed "the civilizing process", a process inextricably tied to (usually French) fashion, the book contains chapters providing provides important insights into Shakespeare's references to beef, herring and baked meats but it does not focus exclusively on Shakespeare or indeed drama. It ranges from about 1450 to the early eighteenth century and amongst the texts of interest to early modern scholars are dietaries, cookery-books, Thomas More's Utopia, Thomas Nashe's Lenten Stuffe, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. Appelbaum is informed throughout by changes in fashion that took place and indicates in his preface that references to food, though often about something else (politics, religion, sex) are invariably also about food. In his analysis of Shakespeare, Appelbaum argues that Hamlet's comment "The funeral baked meats / Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables" (1.2.179-180) relies on the audience knowing that pies would have been served within about a week of preparation and so this marriage has been a swift one. The basis for Andrew Aguecheek's comment "I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit" (Twelfth Night, 1.3.83-84) can be found in a book written by the Italian physician Gugliemo Grataroli translated into English as A Direction for the Health of Magistrates and Studentes (1574) where it is claimed that beef harms the mind. Although hot English stomachs were thought better suited to digesting a cold and gross meat like beef, part of the wit of Sir Andrew's remark is that by Shakespeare's time beef was not considered as good as it once was and it thus reveals the English knight as a man out-of-fashion. In a later chapter discussing Sir Toby Belch's "A plague o' these pickled herring!" (Twelfth Night 1.5.116-117), it is concluded that his belch would probably have proved less offensive to the early moderns than we find it today since intolerance toward the passing of wind in public, and especially at the dinner table, only emerges in the late seventeenth century. Sir Toby leads to a discussion of herring and Nashe's Lenten Stuffe; as Appelbaum shows, this fish was a remarkably ambivalent foodstuff that was at once sign of wealth and poverty, gluttony and abstinence.

    In his examination of early-modern dietary literature, an important but often neglected primary source for those interested in the history of food, Appelbaum considers three original and hugely influential dietaries: Thomas Moulton's This is the Mirror or Glass of Health (ca. 1531), Thomas Elyot's Castle of Health (1539), and Andrew Boorde's Dietary of Health (which Appelbaum dates to 1640 but which was actually first published much earlier, probably in 1542). Appelbaum explores the rules of eating presented by the dietaries as well as resistance to them, practiced by, for example, Michel de Montaigne who it is argued resembles Andrew Aguecheek in following his appetite. In his consideration of More's Utopia, Appelbaum identifies a difference between medieval and early modern descriptions of ideal lands, noting that the latter emphasize morality and focus less on the food that will be consumed. Also analyzed by Appelbaum is what he calls the "double nature" of the Edenic forbidden fruit: it begins as an apple--recognized by the early moderns and Milton as a "cordial" fruit--but clearly becomes a peach since the words "nectar" and "ambrosial", used in Paradise Lost, are inapplicable to the apple.

    Appelbaum devoted most of a chapter of his book to Nashe's Lenten Stuff and herring, but more remains to be written on food in non-dramatic early modern literary texts. Michael Schoenfeldt manages to consider food as well as the body in his monograph Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England and devotes a whole chapter to Book 2 of Spenser's Faerie Queene. Noting a distinction between different kinds of appetites presented in the poem, he observes that the main difference is one of degree: characters abstain entirely from sex but this is not possible with food because whereas "sexual desire threatens the desiring subject . . . food sustains it" (Schoenfeldt 1999, 47); he also comments on Spenser's depiction of the stomach as a kind of kitchen in Alma's house, although here his main concern is on digestion and the disposal of bodily waste. Fuller consideration is given to the subject of food in Efterpi Mitsi's essay tracing connections between poetry and food in a number of texts responding to Stephen Gosson's Schoole of Abuse, including Thomas Lodge's A Reply to Stephen Gosson's Schoole of Abuse and Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry (2003). As Mitsi shows, Gosson compared poets to cooks, identifying poetry with indulgence and expense, a conceit thrown back at him by Lodge who compares poets to physicians rather than cooks and offers to become Gosson's doctor and purge him of his bad diet. Sidney argues that poetry is better than cooking or medicine: it is philosophy. Another notable essay on prose from the period is Katharine Craik's "Reading Coryats Crudities (1611)", a text described by its critics in terms of dietary excess, specifically sweet foods. Coryat's prose is full of descriptions of food and overeating but Coryat  himself, argues Craik, refuses to instruct the reader and would-be traveller, instead representing the appetite as "simultaneously repellent and desirable" (Craik 2004, 90). In an earlier essay Kim F. Hall considers how cookery books and household guides promoted the production of confections made from sugar as a distinctly feminine art; Hall also traces the use of the language of sweetness to describe female literary expression by, for example, Amelia Lanyer (Hall 1996). Schoenfeldt's monograph on the body and food also contains chapters on George Herbert's poetry and Milton's Paradise Lost, the former arguing that Herbert presents the Eucharist as "the ultimate repast for body and soul" and the latter focusing on nature of eating in Milton's epic poem as well as the process of digestion, what he terms "waste management in Paradise" (Schoenfeldt 1999, 99; 143).

Food and Eating in Milton

    Robert Appelbaum visited Paradise Lost via the apple in his monograph, and Milton is rather well served elsewhere by critics who have written about food and, especially, eating in his poetry and prose. Denise Gigante beings her essay with a quotation from Leigh Hunt who notes that "with the exception of Ben Jonson . . . the poet in our own country who has written with the greatest gusto on the subject of eating is Milton" (Gigante 2000). Gigante argues that, throughout his writing, Milton's interest in eating, and specifically taste, prefigures the eighteenth-century preoccupation with the sublime and taste in terms of aesthetics as well as diet; especially interesting is Gigante's discussion of Milton's belief that, as embodied beings, angels ate and digested real food. Arvind Thomas reads the Fall as a violation of the convivial eating presented earlier in Milton's epic, arguing that Milton is here critiquing humanist treatises on manners (Arvind 2006), whilst Susannah B. Mintz notes how, repeatedly in Milton's writing, eating "is explicitly associated with a kind of ethical or rational lassitude"; her detailed examination of a passage from Book 5 of Paradise Lost, when the angel Raphael arrives for dinner with Adam and Eve, is especially insightful (Mintz 2002). Paradise Regained has also attracted critics writing on food: John Karl Franson analyses Satan's use of the bread and banquet temptations as a means to discover the extent of Christ's unique nature (Franson 1976) and Lee Sheridan Cox considers the dialogue between Satan and Christ in terms of "the true food from Heaven which offers life to man as opposed to the image of Satan, the false food" (Cox 1961, 226). John D. Schaeffer builds upon work done by Lana Cable and Nigel Smith, both of whom noted the books-as-food imagery of Milton's Areopagitica, which Schaeffer argues relates specifically to the Eucharist (Schaeffer 2000; Cable 1995; Smith 1990 ) and John K Hale's essay is a short and fun piece based on a 'Milton-breakfast' with his students, which speculates on the kind of food that would have been available to Milton (Hale 2003).

Where We Are Now: Special Issues of Journals and Essay Collections

    The subject of early modern food is gaining respectability amongst literary scholars and is increasingly discussed at academic conferences. In 2009 the journal Shakespeare Jahrbuch published a volume devoted to Shakespeare and food containing essays by, amongst others, Peter Holland and Michael Dobson on staging food in Shakespeare, Kim F. Hall on sugar in Shakespeare and Joan Fitzpatrick on three representative foods (apricots, butter and capons) in Shakespeare and early modern dietary literature (Holland 2009; Dobson 2009; Hall 2009; Fitzpatrick 2009). A year later came a collection of international and interdisciplinary essays on food in the Renaissance across drama, poetry and prose from the late medieval period to the mid-seventeenth century (Fitzpatrick 2010b). In part 1 of the collection Diane Purkiss ponders the cultural significance of bread in England and why it never acquired the dietary centrality that it attained in absolutist France and early modern Germany, whilst Timothy Tomasik observes that in Rabelais' Quart livre the episodes involving Gaster provide the reader with more than just religious satire and a critique of gluttony since they also reflect the culinary habits of mid-century France (Purkiss 2010; Tomaski 2010). In part 2 of the collection Elizabeth Spiller traces the intellectual and cultural shifts that led to the modern recipe and cookery-book and Ken Albala's characteristically fun piece has him trying out some early modern recipes in order to show that they only really make sense when carefully followed without adaptation (Spiller 2010; Albala 2010). Also in part 2 is an essay by Wendy Wall on Shakespeare's sonnets, where she reads their preoccupation with immortality and preservation via the process of distillation as practiced by early modern housewives from instructions in such works as Hugh Plat's Delights for Ladies (Wall 2010). In Part 3 there is an essay by Joan Fitzpatrick on Shakespeare and The Tempest, considering what the early moderns might have made of the foods available to Caliban and also an essay by Tracy Thong, a piece that builds upon the work done by Chris Meads in his monograph, discussed above (Fitzpatrick 2010a; Thong 2010). Closing the collection is an essay by Meads himself, which compares the culinary and dramatic process since both the cook, a figure with a mixed reputation in the period, and the dramatist work with raw materials to produce a finished product for public consumption (Meads 2010).

    The current issue of the new journal Early English Studies is a special one devoted to food entitled 'Eating the World: Food in Early Modern England'. Most of the essays focus on Shakespeare and are original engagements with plays, for example Todd A. Borlik traces early modern attitudes to vegetarianism (more positive than is usually thought) and argues that in Shakespeare's later plays, specifically Hamlet, there is clear evidence of an aversion to animal flesh (Borlik 2009); Katherine Knowles reads Macbeth as a play that is particularly alert to contemporary fears about food shortages and hunger, fears expressed by the witches but also present in the noble characters' hopes and fears (Knowles 2009); and Joshua B. Fisher considers not the quantity of food consumed by Falstaff, usually the focus of critical attention, but what he eats; Fisher argues that Falstaff's consumption of English foods, a consumption that threatens Hal's humoral balance and thus his ability to govern, complicates Hal's engagement with this symbol of English nationalism, which Fisher cleverly puts in terms of his digesting and then purging Falstaff (Fisher 2009). The journal also includes an essay by Madeline Bassnett on the seventeenth-century recipe book as a distinctly royalist genre, with books produced during the Commonwealth advocating the restoration of the monarchy via the celebration of royalist networks and courtly dining practices as well as drawing comparison between royal governance and good household management (Bassnett 2009). Emily E. Speller's essay on Milton's depiction of food and gluttony in Paradise Lost traces the notion of gluttony as the first sin (one that involved eating too daintily as well as eating too much), examining its association with the desire for knowledge and its contrast with prelapsarian temperance in Milton's poem (Speller 2009).

Where Are We Going with Food? The Future of Early Modern Literary Criticism on Food

    So where does the future of food-studies lie for early modern literary scholars? A dictionary on Shakespeare and the Language of Food is forthcoming later this year and it is hoped this will prove a useful tool by providing scholars with a map of sorts for negotiating references to food in Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Fitzpatrick 2010c). As we have seen, there are no monographs devoted to Jonson and food nor (aside from Meads work on the banquet) any on the wealth of references to food and consumption in Jacobean drama; further work on these areas is needed. Milton scholars have produced some valuable studies on food but, here again, no monograph has been published on the topic and less attention has been given to Spenser and food than we might hope. More work also remains to be done on Shakespeare's engagement with food, in the plays as well as in the sonnets and narrative poetry. We should be pleased, however, that certain assumptions about food as a subject for critical studies, specifically that it is too prosaic a topic for literary scholars, now seem remarkably stale.

 

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