(Villa I Tatti – Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies)
The Taste of Color: Dietary Choices and Medical Knowledge
Co-sponsored by the Center for Folklore Studies
and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Grieco's talk is part of the CMRS Symposium, "A Trans-Atlantic Perspective on Early-Modern Foodways (15th-18th Centuries)," which runs from Friday, April 8th through Saturday, April 9th. There will also be a student lunch with symposium speakers from 12:00PM-1:30PM. Register for the symposium and student lunch HERE.
Doctors - as well as any health conscious consumer of the Renaissance – habitually considered the impact that solid foods and liquids were thought to have on the human body. While some of this information was available in a variety of written and oral sources (dietary treatises, literary texts, recipe books, and so on), individuals could also rely on their own senses to try and understand the characteristics and qualities of what they chose to eat or drink. Two senses in particular were singled out as the ones giving the most trustworthy information: taste and sight. Both the taste system of the Renaissance (derived from Aristotelian parameters) and the food-related color spectrum were integrated into a widely understood frame of reference that was used not only by doctors and consumers for health-related concerns, but also by artists and writers to communicate social and cultural meaning.
Allen J. Grieco (PhD École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) is Emeritus Senior Research Associate in History at Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies). Dr. Grieco has published extensively on the cultural history of food in Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries and co edited several collective volumes amongst which: Food Excesses and Constraints in Europe, special issue of Food & History (2006), Dalla vite al vino. Fonti e problemi della vitivinicoltura italiana nel medioevo (Bologna, 1994) and Le Monde végétal (XIIe–XVIIe siècles): savoirs et usages sociaux (Vincennes, 1993). Currently co editor-in-chief of Food & History (Turnhout, Brepols), he is also in charge of a bibliographic project on the history of food in Europe funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He has taught at Harvard as well as at the University of Florence and Bologna, and has created an English-language M.A. program at the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche, Pollenzo (Italy).
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