Menu 1 - Paper 4

Menu, Journal of Food and Hospitality Research
Volume 1, 2012, Pages 37- 46

From the table to the bed: controlling female sexuality through food in French Renaissance literature

Audrey Gilles-Chikhaoui
Aix-Marseille Université, Département de Lettres modernes, CIELAM and Université d'Ottawa, Département de français


Abstract: During the Renaissance, to talk of food is essentially to speak of dietetics and medicine. Moreover, when texts deal with female delight, it is more a sexual delight than a greedy one. Liébault and Brantôme linked both of them and their texts are among the rare ones in French literature proposing a diet for women. In Jean Liébault's “Thresor des remedes secrets du mal des femmes” and Brantôme's discourse on “Des dames qui font l'amour et leurs maris cocus”, speaking of food is also a way of speaking about female sexuality and desire. The doctor as well as the chronicler of Henri III's Court both use Galen as a model in their texts, but each have different aims: Liébault wants to cure female sexual disorders and thus food becomes a remedy for excessive sexual pleasure, while Brantôme shows how food is a way for women to kindle their libido in a delightful, pleasant way. In both texts, discourse on the female body reveals male perplexity and anxiety about a woman's pleasure of food and sex.

Keywords: Brantôme, Liébault, female sexuality, food, Renaissance

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