Medical and Dietetic References in Medieval German Cookbooks

Medical and Dietetic References in Medieval German Cookbooks

By Marialuisa Caparrini

I castelli di Yale online, Vol.5:1 (2017)

A man pressing grapes and drinking wine – British Library MS Additional 21114 f. 5v

Abstract: This article aims at describing the various types of medical remarks which are included in late medieval German cookbooks. The examples show that these suggestions, generally very short, reflect the common medical theories on nutrition and that during the Middle Ages there was a close connection between food preparation and medicine. It can be thus inferred that medieval cookery literature could be considered as an integral part of medical literature and that both genres aimed at providing both practical and theoretical information beneficial for human health.

Introduction: In this article I will analyse the various types of medical and dietetic references contained in late medieval German recipe collections. First I will start by describing the close connection between medicine and food preparation during the Middle Ages and the historical background of medieval medical theories on nutrition; then I will consider the inclusion of dietetic suggestions in German cookbooks, describing the main kinds of medical advice which can be found in culinary recipes dating back to the fourteenth/fifteenth century.

The examples will show that late medieval cookery literature can be considered as an integral part of medical and dietetic literature and that both fields of knowledge aimed at providing both theoretical and practical information in order to preserve human health.

Click here to read this article from I castelli di Yale online

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