Where to eat? With whom to eat? What to eat? : culinary sociability in literature (from the Middle Ages to the 21st century)

The grail is the first manifestation of an extraordinary banquet; but Perceval, invited to the table of King Fisher, did not dare to ask the question: "what is the grail?”. Even today, nobody knows what contained this famous "fish dish" intended to save the world...

The banquet is the high point of the social representation which intervenes as a symbolic stake to say the order of the world. Everyone must eat according to his nature, his function and his rank. But it is without counting on the upheavals of the world (and the new world!): spices, new tastes, «service à la française ", codifications of the arts of the mouth, new cooking, bring the guests into a new space of sociability.

The meal, taken with the others, questions since the origins of the French language the conviviality at the table and the tongue (which eats and which speaks). If we receive and if we are received until the French Revolution, in the restaurants of the nineteenth century until today, we go out and we are seen. Literature is witnessing this change in sociability. However, these two modes of social consumption always question, through gastronomy, the relationship to the other. "Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are" could make alliance with another saying: "" Tell me with who you eat, I'll tell you who you are. "

In this new setting, table talk is literature to tell the world by the plate!


Nelly Labère is a Senior Lecturer at Bordeaux Montaigne University, she has taught in various French universities (Panthéon-Assas University, Sorbonne Université, Paris 8 University, University of Poitiers) and foreign (Finland). Doctor from the University Paris IV Sorbonne, she is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France.


She is the author of many books: Gallimard editions, Honoré Champion, Garnier, Presses Universitaires de France, ... His work focuses on the norm: food norm (gastronomy: knowledge and flavors), sexual norm (the genre and the obscene), literary norm (literary genres and forms of discourse).