New Book | From Gluttony to Enlightenment: The World of Taste

Posted in books by Editor on January 6, 2018

A revised and translated edition of Viktoria von Hoffmann’s Goûter le monde: une histoire culturelle du goût à l’époque moderne (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2013), published by the University of Illinois Press:

Viktoria von Hoffmann, From Gluttony to Enlightenment: The World of Taste in Early Modern Europe (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2017), 282 pages, ISBN: 978 02520 40641 (cloth), $95 / ISBN: 978 02520 82146 (paper), $28.

Scorned since antiquity as low and animal, the sense of taste is celebrated today as an ally of joy, a source of adventure, and an arena for pursuing sophistication. The French exalted taste as an entrée to ecstasy, and revolutionized their cuisine and language to express this new way of engaging with the world. Viktoria von Hoffmann explores four kinds of early modern texts—culinary, medical, religious, and philosophical—to follow taste’s ascent from the sinful to the beautiful. Combining food studies and sensory history, she takes readers on an odyssey that redefined a fundamental human experience. Scholars and cooks rediscovered a vast array of ways to prepare and present foods. Far-sailing fleets returned to Europe bursting with new vegetables, exotic fruits, and pungent spices. Hosts refined notions of hospitality in the home while philosophers pondered the body and its perceptions. As von Hoffmann shows, these labors produced a sea change in perception and thought, one that moved taste from the base realm of the tongue to the ethereal heights of aesthetics.

Viktoria von Hoffmann is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Liège.

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