The question of food is a growing interest in anthropology. Levi-Strauss made the famous distinction between the raw and the cooked and this ushered in the so-called 'structuralist revolution', the effects of which are still being felt within the subject. The wedding cake, whether 'traditional' or in new styles is no ordinary object. At once ...
The question of food is a growing interest in anthropology. Levi-Strauss made the famous distinction between the raw and the cooked and this ushered in the so-called 'structuralist revolution', the effects of which are still being felt within the subject. The wedding cake, whether 'traditional' or in new styles is no ordinary object. At once familiar in form, tradition and ceremony, it presents a fascination and a range of problems which anthropologists are only just beginning to work on. It is a product of a complex, contingent and continuing history, which illustrates and challenges theories of 'structuralism' and 'neo-structuralism'.
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Publishers Weekly, 1992-05-25 ``The earliest recipe recorded fromsic Britain for a dish specifically for a wedding is in fact a pie,'' writes Charsley, an anthropologist at the University of Glasgow. The wedding cake as we know it today--with its successively smaller layers, supporting pillars, fancy frosting and festoons--had its origins some hundred years later, in a confection that commemorated the marriage of one of Queen Victoria's daughters in 1859. Even then, a few refinements were missing: only the base tier was actually cake (the rest were pure sugar), and the layers were stacked like hat boxes. It would take the wedding of Prince Leopold in 1882 before guests could enjoy an entirely ``cake'' wedding cake, and another 20 years before the tiers were separated by columns (usually disguised pieces of a broom handle). There are many shrewd observations here, particularly those that link the evolving elaborateness of the wedding cakes to the growing commercialization of private ceremonies (most Victorian amateur bakers lacked the engineering skill to keep the higher layers from sinking into the lower ones). Charsley is also enlightening on the way the ritual of cake-cutting reflects the changing role of women in marriage. But general readers should be warned: Wedding Cakes is not a novelty item or gift book. Although Charsley's writing is relatively free of jargon, his book is clearly aimed at an academic audience; there is thorough documentation of such minutiae as flour proportion and the development of icing, and even the most intellectually inclined gourmands may quickly find that they have bitten off more than they can--or care to--chew. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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