Table manners and food waste
Posted 18 September 2003 - 01:41 PM
1. What sort table manners and etiquette existed when you were a taster?
2. What do you think of the way that food is wasted today?
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Posted 19 September 2003 - 10:18 AM
We were the first people to wash out hands before the meal. Even in Corsoli we washed our hands, though that was not so much because we wanted them to be clean but because Duke Federico thought that someone might have put poison on them.
The duke instructed Septivus, the teacher of the court, to read books about table manners to us. He told us that if you blow your nose at the table, you should use a handkerchief and when you had finished you should not look into the handkerchief as if you expected to find the crown jewels there. Most of us still blew our noses the old way, holding it between the thumb and forefinger and then turning away from the table and blowing the snot on the floor.
We were also told to eat with our mouths closed although, potta! that was hard to do because how can you talk when your mouth is closed?
Nor did we lift our sleeves up so that they would not get caught in the sauce bowls, because it was unfashionable to lift up the sleeves of our jackets.
Many of these suggestions, and hundreds of others, came from a book by Erasmus, a Dutchman. But if you knew how plain the Dutch meals were you would not be surprised they could do these things.
As for the way food is wasted today. I think most of it should be wasted for it is not food at all. In Corsoli we never wasted food. Bur when I was a boy I heard about a banquet in Roma where a lot of food was wasted. I cannot remember what it was for, but I know that they set up tables in the middle of a piazza for all the cardinals and dignitaries. Then they put seats up so that the citizens of Roma could watch them eat. There was so much food that when the diners had finished they passed the dishes to those who were watching. There was still so much food left over that the people started throwing it at one another. The cardinals and the dignitaries joined in until the whole piazza, the buildings and all the people were covered in food. I do not know if they always did this but I know it happened at least once.