Birth of the Modern Diet; Diet and Health; Exclusive Online Issues; by Rachel Laudan; 6 Page(s)
Were we to attend a 16th-century court banquet in France or England, the food would seem strange indeed to anyone accustomed to traditional Western cooking. Dishes might include blancmange - a thick puree of rice and chicken moistened with milk from ground almonds, then sprinkled with sugar and fried pork fat. Roast suckling pig might be accompanied by a cameline sauce, a side dish made of sour grape juice thickened with bread crumbs, ground raisins and crushed almonds, and spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Other offerings might consist of fava beans cooked in meat stock and sprinkled with chopped mint or quince paste, a sweetmeat of quinces and sugar or honey. And to wash it all down, we would probably drink hypocras, a mulled red wine seasoned with ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and sugar.
Fast-forward 100 years, though, and the food would be reassuringly familiar. On the table might be beef bouillon, oysters, anchovies and a roast turkey with gravy. These dishes might be served alongside mushrooms cooked in cream and parsley, a green salad with a dressing of oil and vinegar, fresh pears, lemon sherbet, and sparkling white wine.