Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting

Front Cover
Macmillan, Aug 1, 2005 - Cooking - 256 pages
9 Reviews
Feasts, banquets, and grand dinners have always played a vital role in our lives. They oil the wheels of diplomacy, smooth the paths of the ambitious, and spread joy at family celebrations. They lift the spirits, involve all our senses and, at times, transport us to other fantastical worlds. Some feasts have give rise to hilarious misunderstandings, at others competitive elements take over. Some are purely for pleasure, some connect uncomfortably with death, but all are interesting. Nichola Fletcher has written a captivating history of feasts throughout the ages that includes the dramatic failures along with the dazzling successes. From a humble meal of potatoes provided by an angel, to the extravagance of the high medieval and Renaissance tables groaning with red deer and wild boar, to the exquisite refinement of the Japanese tea ceremony, Charlemagne’s Tablecloth covers them all. In her gustatory exploration of history’s great feasting tables, Fletcher also answers more than a few riddles such as “Why did Charlemagne use an asbestos tablecloth at his feasts?” and “Where did the current craze for the elegant Japanese Kaiseki meal begin? Fletcher answers these questions and many more while inviting readers to a feasting table that extends all the way from Charlemagne’s castle to her own millennium feast in Scotland. This is an eclectic collection of feasts from the flamboyant to the eccentric, the delicious to the disgusting, and sometimes just the touchingly ordinary. For anyone who has ever sat down at a banquet table and wondered, “Why?” Nichola Fletcher provides the delicious answer in a book that is a feast all its own.
  

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Review: Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting

User Review  - Hrjones - Goodreads

I wasn't impressed enough to buy this when it first came out, but remaindered at $10 for the hardcover, it seemed worth it. A variety of essays connected by the theme of feasting. Read full review

Review: Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting

User Review  - Jacob Yang - Goodreads

Enjoyable history of feasts, their excesses and purposes. Certainly puts traditional western wedding traditions in perspective. Read full review

Contents

What is a feast? i
2
the origin of feasts
9
medieval feasting 16
33
disconcerting elements
37
King Midas last feast
44
fish
47
an ancient food culture
56
meat
64
pigsthe peasantsfeast
121
A beastly feast
129
evolution of European banquets
133
celebrating relief
146
dinner for the Acclimatisation Society of Great Britain
152
a vegan feast at the Japanese tea ceremony
163
A feast in the bath how not to behave
170
feasts of fraternity and men behaving badly
189

enhancing the ordinary
75
The banquet from hell
83
Mardi Gras
90
hunting and a ninecourse venison feast
103
perfume and flowers
115
A feast on horseback
202
a feast for the millennium
217
Bibliography and sources
229
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Nichola Fletcher lives in Scotland and France and is multiskilled. She originally trained as an artist goldsmith, a skill she still practices. But she has also spent thirty years perfecting her knowledge of venison, having pioneered Europe’s first deer farm with her husband. She was nominated for a Slow Food Award for this work. As a food writer she has written four books on the culture, history, and cooking of game meats; lectures and demonstrates worldwide; and writes for the Financial Times. Her unusual combination of talents provides the perfect grounding for her remarkable study of the art of feasting for which she was awarded a Gourmet Voice Media Award. She has two daughters.

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