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152 Reviews These are intrinsically fascinating lines of inquiry, broadening the study of texts into a wider cultural context, and usefully reuniting fields of study, so that the late medieval period can be approached as a more integrated whole. As in earlier publications in the long-running EDAM series at Kalamazoo, the arguments are judiciously handled and persuasive. The detailed attention given in the edition to dialect and textual matters successfully adapts scholarly techniques developed for manuscript study to this early printed text. Textual emendations to de Worde's edition, and more important variant readings by previous editors are listed. This is thefirstprinted edition of The Worlde and the Chylde to offer a full set of explanatory textual notes, an analysis of verse structures, and a glossary of archaic or unfamiliar words. In general, the edition gives long overdue assistance and encouragement to readers seeking to come to terms with this difficult but rewarding work. Cheryl Taylor School ofHumanities James Cook University Dembinska, Maria, Food and Drink in Medieval Poland, trans. Magdalena Thomas, revised and adapted William Woys Weaver, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999; cloth; pp. xxiii, 227; 40 b/w illustrations; RRP US$29.95, £22.50; ISBN 0-8122-3224-0. Food and Drink in Medieval Poland is the culmination of a project started Dembinska as a doctoral dissertation at Warsaw University back in 1963. William Woys Weaver's adaptation of Dembinska's original work includes new material by Dembinska, as well as revisions and explanations by Weaver based on Magdalena Thomas' translation. Weaver makes Dembinska's research more accessible to an English-speaking audience. H e admits: 'it is not the book that Maria Dembinska wrote, but it captures the essential parts of the food story as she assembled it' (p. xiv). Many ofthe words and all ofthe recipes, however, are Weaver's. Dembinska argues that food culture transcends social and economic classes to form part of a truly national Polish identity. She interprets this food culture, not as distinctively native dishes, but as what Polish people ate. She describes medieval cuisine as 'simple things artfully reshaped tofita Polish notion of appropriate taste' (p. 146). Poland was a multi-ethnic society, Reviews 153 particularly in the Middle Ages. Peasant migrants from the south and the east as well as Byzantine and other European delegations increasingly arrived in Poland. In tow they brought their native cuisines and adapted them to the local foodways existent since the Neolithic era. Dembinska describes a blended cuisine tailored to local availability and tastes. This synthesis of cuisines attests to the international flavour of medieval Polish life and the varied origins of a 'national' identity. She addresses the questions of when a dish becomes distinctly Polish and who is a Polish cook in thefirsttwo chapters. As a country with fluctuating borders and both migrant and immigrant populations, her definition of 'Polish' by cultural standards such as food and foodways is more relevant than a geographic understanding ofnational identity. To tell this story, Dembinska relies on the archaeological data, manuscript sources and purchase orders from court and noble accounts. N o native cookery books survived the period. The few relevant manuscript recipes are of limited use since the more c o m m o n fare was passed on orally and never committed to ink. However the lack of cookery books is almost incidental as Dembinska's book is primarily about how people used food in their lives to express social, political and economic relationships. Dembinska treats food as m u c h more than sustenance. The production and distribution of food at court was the economic and social lifeline for an array of suppliers. A s evidence of food's importance, Dembinska points out that the wine steward and often the Chefde cuisine were noble men themselves, their positions considered an honour. Furthermore food often served as a 'gift' in political negotiations, from the procurement of rare delicacies on politically astute occasions to the pecking order in which every meal at court was served. Dembinska addresses all ofthese issues and her analysis ofthe meaning of food and foodways is a great contribution to our understanding ofthe complex and multifaceted role food consumption...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 152-154
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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