Paternal Pedagogy and the Palate
This chapter focuses on a popular pedagogical warning to fathers about the dangers of the palate. Many writers described taste, along with the abundance of rich foods and the variety of products from trade with “pagan” lands, as a corruptive force, which could create the portal to a sinful lifestyle. An emphasis on eating with temperance and dressing with modesty became commonplace in discussions about how to raise good citizens. Fathers could prevent this overindulgence in food and drink by transforming the table into an “altar of humanity” as Alberti suggests so that the youth might learn to eat with moderation and to consume knowledge through conversation. For writers such as Alberti and Platina, taste in a mercantile world of diversity and temptation can lead to domestic and social communion with others, rather than to an endless pursuit for self-satisfaction, but only under the proper guidance of an elite group of paternalistic citizens who claim to understand and model the art of healthy eating for their families and communities.