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Shakespeare’s Culinary Aesthetic | Early Modern and Open Access

By November 29, 2015 One Comment

This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Ken Albala, “Shakespeare’s Culinary Aesthetic,” Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare 29 (2012): 1-11.


While much attention has been paid to the culinary and dietary metaphors in Shakespeare’s works, the culinary aesthetic with which he would have been familiar is less well known. In other words, what types of foods would a man of Shakespeare’s social standing and profession have eaten in the late 16th and early 17th century? How did the flavor profiles, ingredients and cooking techniques influence his frame of mind and what repertoire of dishes would he have been able to draw from when thinking about food? This paper will examine Tudor and Stuart cuisine. I will argue that the same aesthetic preoccupation with variety, polyphony, surprises and ingenious conceits dominate in drama and cuisine, without however abandoning a certain fundamental straight-forwardness in regard to materials or ingredients. That is, when conjuring metaphors that directly relate to food or not, it was a distinctly Tudor and Stuart approach to art in general, largely influenced by the arts of the table, that steered Shakespeare toward the aesthetic choices he ultimately made.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

More posts by Lindsay

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