The Changing Status of Offal: A Fashionable Food in England Between 1545 and 1655

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With the variety of foods sought by the well-to-do increasing significantly in early modern England, there was a reappraisal of the status of animal by-products. This paper investigates the development of offal from a food that was traditionally associated with the poor, to an esteemed fashion-food that adorned the dining tables of the English gentry during the early modern period. It does this by analyzing changes in purchasing patterns at the homes of the social elite, and comparing the foods that they bought with the ingredients specified in fashionable cookbooks. With reference to these and other historical sources it will be seen that offal, after it had been suitably prepared, enabled the well-to-do to broaden the range of culinary tastes available to them, and add this food to their expanding range of cultural identity markers.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2012

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