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Eating and Drinking

Venetian cuisine

Canalside restaurant

Among the panoply of pleasures that were celebrated in Venice, food and drink naturally played an important role, so much so as to encourage gastronomic voyeurism; there are paintings of lavish feasts in theatres, with a full audience on hand to watch the toffs eat in style. There are tales of the legendary Doge Andrea Gritti, of Henry VIII-ish appetites, eating himself to death, and others of entire table settings, including the napkins, sculpted of sugar, once worth its weight in gold. Oysters were served with gilded shells.

It does certainly seem that style, novelty and quantity were more important than quality, which is rarely mentioned: the wine (especially the swill served in the cheap inns or malvasie), was condemned, even by English visitors, for its 'pall'd disgustful Taste'. As for the bread, 'Even when fresh [...] could be so dry and solid that you had to take a hammer to it'. Perhaps most damning of all, Venetians housewives not only didn't make their own pasta, but bought it ready boiled from shops.


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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by La Citta Vita, PD Art