Dining in aristocratic households of nineteenth-century France: a study of female authority

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Abstract

During the long nineteenth century gastronomy emerged as a cultural field in France and intersected with the established cultural field of hospitality. In the role of hostess noblewomen were acknowledged leaders in hospitality, but the gradual transformation of this field led to an evolution in their position relative to that of men in professions such as chef, sommelier and food critic. This article examines the consumption and production involved in dining among the nobility. At a dinner party nobles enjoyed fine food and drink, indulged in gossip and conversation, and received attention from servants. Simultaneously, the hostess and guests perpetuated social traditions, consolidated friendships and kin networks, and reproduced the gendered bodily practices associated with aristocratic distinction. Prior to 1914 the activity of hosting dinners placed noblewomen ahead of male chefs, sommeliers and food critics in the field of social power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-123
Number of pages19
JournalVirtus. Journal of Nobility Studies
Volume23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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