On the Table Series
Three Banquets For a Queen
Gastronomy meets art in a new series, On the Table, edited by the provocative, genre-straddling Swedish writer Charlotte Birnbaum. The first publication is a new translation of a 17th-century text describing three spectacular banquets that greeted Queen Christina of Sweden when she visited Rome in 1668. Antonio degli Effetti was on the scene, and described all three feasts in their sumptuous glory, detailing the lavish preparations for the celebrations and the dining experience itself, designed by Bernini, no less! The original text, dotted with quotations from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Aeneid, is placed in today’s context by a foreword and two essays by Birnbaum. Was it dinner or was it 300-year-old performance art?
The Beauty of the Fold
This second book in the ground-breaking On the Table series about the culture of gastronomy as artistic expression – edited by Charlotte Birnbaum – delves into the art of napkin folding. It features German master Joan Sallas, whose folded napkins graced the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit of 1780 Viennese royal table silver. (Watch him fold a “water lily” napkin on YouTube.) Birnbaum interviews Sallas on the history of napkin folding, stretching back to the Renaissance and Baroque, and contributes a short essay on the art’s complex history; the remainder of the book is an illustrated catalog of Sallas’s ornate folding techniques.
BON! BON! On the Charms of Sweet Cuisine
People have used honey, dates, and fruits to sweeten their dishes since time immemorial, but with the introduction of sugar—“white gold”—into cooking and baking, a whole array of delightful flavors and culinary possibilities was born. Sugar became the building block for edible sculptures and model palaces made for festivals and celebrations thousands of years ago, and the main ingredient in lavish creations for Rococo and Baroque banquets. A life without cakes, pastries, tarts, soufflés, meringues, petits fours, or marzipan was unimaginable! In Bon! Bon!, Charlotte Birnbaum uncovers the wonderful world of all things sugary through surprising anecdotes and historical accounts, each accompanied by delectable recipes that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. On the Table is the ongoing series from editor Charlotte Birnbaum that explores the encounter between food and art throughout history. With illustrations by Christa Näher.
Back to top