He turns the spit who never tasted a morsel from it.
Proverbes en Rimes, no. 117.
Continuing our salute to cooks this holiday season (Thanksgiving), today’s post includes some depictions of male cooks, as well as female cooks.
Medieval opinions of cooks, mostly men, tended to reflect the lowly status accorded to people who worked in the kitchen:
Medieval attitudes toward the cook and his staff were mixed. There was always a certain contempt for a man with an obviously messy job. Such scorn had deep roots and can be found expressed already in Roman times by Petronius: ‘A boy gorged on a diet like this can no more acquire taste than a cook can stop stinking.’ (Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society, by Bridget Ann Henisch, p. 65)
Nowadays, cooks and chefs get top billing with athletes and politicians.
One of the notable aspects of the Flemish paintings lies in the appearance of female cooks being subjected to what we today might call sexual harassment.
One of the first realistic portrayals of a kitchen in the Middle Ages, in the Lower Church in Assisi, Italy.
This painting can be turned upside down and forms another picture from that angle.
The artist as punster!