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Culinary Historians | The History of Bread in Medieval Europe


Sunday February 18, 2024: 4:00pm to 5:30pm  Add to Calendar /   Add to Google Calendar


Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room


In his Summation of All Theology (published in the 1260s), Thomas Aquinas stated categorically that God was not present in sacred breads made from any grains other than wheat. Aquinas further advised that the wheaten host should be made as small, flat, white discs without any leavening, completely unlike the bread people ate at home. Yet a thousand years earlier Christians had celebrated Jesus’s Last Supper using whatever breads they had at hand. This presentation investigates how medieval Christians came to think that the divine presence would occur in specific types of flour, and doughs shaped in specific ways. It presents the early medieval period, prior to the year 1000 CE, as a time when Europeans experimented with ingredients, recipes, and techniques for manufacturing the sacred food consumed weekly in Christian liturgies.

Dr. Paolo Squatriti is Professor of History at the University of Michigan and author of Landscape and Change in Early Medieval Italy: Chestnuts, Economy, and Culture (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

This event is in partnership with the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor.