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My work centres on the nature of early modern commensality amongst the gentry families of Lancashire and Cheshire. My research shows numerous examples where families served dishes to guests that were frowned upon on a humoral basis. I want to explore what this meant for hosts and diners. What did such dishes say about those serving them? How did guests feel about consuming foods that may have been deemed unfit for consumption by medical writers? How seriously did the gentry take dietary advice and warnings about the dangers of unguarded consumption? Several foods occur regularly in accounts and menus: venison, veal, beef, waterfowl, cheese, salads, milky syllabubs, and oats, many of which were synonymous with the counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, their landscapes and climates. Yet these foods were all required to be tempered or combined with other ingredients to render them ‘safe.’ I believe a detailed look at the foods consumed at such gatherings can allow us to understand to what extent the gentry took the advice of published medical and dietary works seriously. Was advice simply disregarded or were other concerns given greater priority? I argue hosts and guests did not think of commensality only in humoral and environmentally embodied ways, intersecting with mental, sensory, and religious concerns, but also combined these ways of thinking with other perspectives and preoccupations. These were equally important and no less affective in the context of gentry dining and help me undercover the true complexity and multi-layered meaning of early modern commensality. 


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