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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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banquet the English word, and its close relations in other languages (French banquet, Italian banchetto, etc.) have had different meanings at different times. Today, the meaning of banquet in English is: a formal and sumptuous meal, usually of a ceremonial nature and for a large number of people. The word embraces the meal in its entirety.

However, in the 16th and 17th centuries this was not so. The whole of a formal and sumptuous meal would then have been called a feast; and the word ‘banquet’, at that time, referred to the final, sweet, course or episode of the feast. This often took place in a separate room, not the one in which the main part of the feast had been consumed; and its character was different.