Don't know much about the history of food, other than food no doubt gets complex over history. What are some primary resources which describes how food was prepared in ancient times?
Related, I've been wondering: when was salt discovered and how was it originally implemented?
I do actually know a little bit about the Columbian Exchange and how that shaped diets and agriculture in the 15th century and up.
I'm not saying salt is bad. Don't know what gave you that idea. I'm aware that salt is important to understanding the history of food, but I was wondering who first discovered it and how, and what were general applications of it.
Describe to me medieval recipes.
Scully, Terence. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 1995.
>The most comprehensive treatment of the subject from a scholar with a particular interest in the medical background. Includes an extensive section on beverages (chap. 6) and discusses the training of a professional cook.
Woolgar, Christopher M. The Great Household in Late Medieval England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
>Contains detailed chapters called “Food and Drink” and “Cooking and the Meal,” and some interesting information on mealtimes and fasting practices in the chapter “The Rhythms of the Household.”
Henisch, Bridget. The Medieval Cook. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2009.
>Basically a study of cooks and their activities, as found in historical and literary sources as well as in medieval art. Many well-chosen illustrations. Written primarily for the general public, this would be an excellent introduction for students new to the field.
Adamson, Melitta Weiss. Food in Medieval Times. Food through History. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2004.
>Includes a section on regional cuisines and discusses the roles of religion and medical theories of the time in determining what food and drink was appropriate for whom, and when, with attention to the diet of the peasants and townspeople. Drinks are included.
Albala, Ken. Cooking and Dining in Europe 1250–1650. Greenwood Press Daily Life through History Series: Cooking Up History. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006.
>Introductory volume and overview on what was eaten during this period, with recipes. Includes glossary, sources for unusual ingredients, and information on components of the banquets ranging from sweets to drinks to main dishes.
I want to learn more about old breadmaking techniques and general fermented products.
The thought that most households had to keep a strain of yeast alive and well for whenever they wanted to make bread and that most bread was sourdough instead of being white bread never fails to amaze me.
>I'm not saying salt is bad
I didn't mean to imply that you did. Salt is just good, it makes all foods better, more vibrant. I'd assume people tasted the rock and thought it was good but I'm not expert
Where to begin. First off, the area is massively varying so there are often different preferred grains and foods. The medieval diet had much more meat than people would commonly believe, pigs and boar were popular since they could be fed off slop and scraps, and during winter they could scavenge from the forests. Local game and birds were a good source as well. Cattle wasn't the most common since it would be better as a beast of burden. Deer and Venison were typical, fish was especially crucial during Lent. Barely and rye were the generally preferred grains due to their ruggedness, bread being the obvious staple. Rice was grown as well but they knew it brought about malaria and was discouraged. Wheat was rare since it required a lot more care and soil. Vegetables were obviously crucial to the diet. Leeks, cabbage, onion, carrot, turnip, pretty much all types of vegetables you can imagine. Herbs have a long tradition starting here as they were an easy way to improve the flavor of dishes. Fruit is very much like vegetables in that it was key. Medieval food was very much a case of what was available. Typically most peasant households would have a small garden for growing their own vegetables or fruit.
Onto recipes. One of the most common things seen is soup, various kinds of stews were very popular as they're filling, easy to make, and often comforting in the winter. In fact, a kettle was one of the most expensive and valued items a household could have. Pies and pastries were adored, you'll often see savory kinds with every type of filling imaginable (parsnip is a personal favorite of mine). Sugar is also seen and it was very much adored, for obvious reasons. Their refinement methods were superb and was white as we see in modern times.
Pilcher, Jeffrey M. Food in World History. New York: Routledge, 2006.
>An engaging overview of the role of food in world history. Unlike most volumes that claim to address global history, much of this book focuses on the so-called third world. Throughout the volume there are important discussions of Latin American regional food production and consumption within a global framework.
Kiple, Kenneth F. A Movable Feast: Ten Millennia of Food Globalization. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
>Based on the Cambridge World History of Food, this is an interpretative volume of the longue durée of food and cultural exchange. The volume gives significant weight to the Columbian exchange and its impact on world history. Kiple sees globalization as an ongoing and largely beneficial process.
Carney, Judith, and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff. In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
>An engaging overview of Africa’s botanical legacy in the Americas. Chapters explore African food crops in the slave trade, maroon subsistence strategies, the Africanization of plantation food systems and African animals in the Americas.
Wright, Clifford A. A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean, from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs; with More Than 500 Recipes. New York: William Morrow, 1999.
>A fascinating and eclectic work that is half cookbook and half historical survey. Building on Braudel’s thesis of the unity of the Mediterranean, the author attempts to show this unity through a study of the cross-pollination of the region’s cuisines.
>strain of yeast alive and well for whenever they wanted to make bread
There are people today that have been using the same strain for over a hundred years. I believe there is Boudin Bakery in San Franscisco that has a starter documented to be about 150 years old or so. I remember an episode of some cooking show where Emeril Lagasse's restaurant was about to get raped by Hurricane Katrina and the only thing he made sure to save was his generations old sourdough starter strain.
Brothwell, Don R., and Patricia Brothwell. Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
>Reprint with afterword of an older (1969) edition, but still useful survey of food production and consumption practices throughout the ancient world. Most helpful for comparisons with other ancient cultures.
Wilkins, John, F. D. Harvey, and Michael J. Dobson, eds. Food in Antiquity. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1995.
>Made up of short articles from experts from different fields. Focused mostly on the Greco-Roman world.
Kaufman, Cathy K. Cooking in Ancient Civilizations. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006.
>Offers colorful portraits across various ancient Near Eastern (and other) cultures to help imagine the situation.
Cooper, John. Eat and Be Satisfied: A Social History of Jewish Food. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1993.
>In a useful, broad reconstruction of Jewish diets, Cooper discusses geopolitical influences on diet, food availability, and major food customs, across historical periods.
Kraemer, David. c. Routledge Advances in Sociology. New York: Routledge, 2007.
>A social history of Jewish food that focuses on eating practices and identity construction from the biblical and rabbinic periods into the modern Diaspora, finishing in modern-day America.
McCann, James C. Stirring the Pot: A History of African Cuisine. Ohio Africa in World History Series. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.
>A major study of food, diet, and culinary cultures of Africa and the diaspora. Classifies African cuisines under west African, the Maize Belt, and Africa’s Maritime World categories.
>Salt is just good, it makes all foods better, more vibrant
Actually, your body needs salt. That's why you crave it. You need it to power all the bioelectrical aspects of your central nervous system. You also need water. In a cruel twist of evolution, you cannot have salt water as it will dehydrate you and kill you.
A few landmarks in food history:
~ Humans selectively breeding wild species into modern forms of corn, wheat, and other grains/legumes
~ Europe growing potatoes was like unlocking a cheat code for feeding people
~ The same guy who discovered fertilizers is also the godfather of chemical warfare
~ Crop rotation was a big deal when first discovered
~ Soybeans and rice are the future
De Agri Cultura by Cato the Elder is one of the earliest records of farming methods, and the genesis of the word "Agriculture".
Salads did exist, but they differed quite a bit, no heavy dressing, but usually oil and vinegar. I've seen a couple recipes for apple and onion, various root vegetables, various leafy green vegetables, etc. One of the more interesting salads seen are flowers. Flowers, notably roses, were in some instances grown for their taste, which isn't all too bad in the instances I've tried them in. Rosewater was extremely popular as a flavoring. As far as dairy goes, yoghurt did exist to some degrees but I'm a bit shakey on that. Milk itself wasn't too common since it spoiled, but they did drink it and did cook with it. Butter is naturally the biggest dairy product alongside cheese. Almond milk was preferred to regular milk for the obvious reason of spoiling. I've seen a recipe for barely water, which is the water from boiled barely mixed with lemon and sugar, it's not too horrible, rather mild in taste. As far as beverages go, alcohol was common since the distilling process purified the water. Ale, beer, wine, and various hard spirits all have heavy roots in the time. It was treated as a vindicate and properly made wine was something for the kings. Onto spices, I'll just outright say that people using spices to disguise the taste of spoiled meat is just flat out idiotic. It makes no sense and I'm pretty sure was invented in the Victorian period. Spice mixes were prized naturally, there are quite a few combinations that were seen as something you'd find in a castles kitchen, and is implied by the term usage in recipes (I've seen powder fort, fine, douce, and sweet spice, as well as a couple more). These spices are obviously old world ones which got into the region through trade along the silk roads and from India, the Middle East, and Africa.
I can't think of anything else to mention so please ask and I'll answer
>A Proper New Booke of Cookery
>Le Menagier de Paris
>Le Viandier de Taillevent
Are the three books I can think of off the top of my head as sources.
>~ The same guy who discovered fertilizers is also the godfather of chemical warfare
Wasn't he also a Jew, and didn't he help make the Nazi war machine feasible by giving them fertilizer so they could make fertilizer bomb munitions?
>~ Soybeans and rice are the future
Forgot your lentils and plankton.
>Forgot your lentils and plankton
Also mealworms, snails, and tilapia
Interesting thing about insects as food: they're by far the most effective transformers in the animal kingdom of energy into meat protein. Cows by comparison are like comparing a candle to an LED light bulb.
Bread making was an art and a trade. I know there are many, many different kinds of recipes that vary depending on the region, but we can generalize and say that they used bear or ale or some kind of alcohol as their active ingredient, usually with yeast as a proof. Breads the basis of the diet and as such, there are a plethora of kinds using lentils to nuts and oats. Trenchers were used very early on as a form of plate, it would soak up all the juices from any meats or sauces and was typically given to peasants. There are far too many different kinds of breads to really say how they were each made, check out those three books I just recommended and the other anon dropped quite a few good titles I could recognize
> that they used bear or ale or some kind of alcohol as their active ingredient
Should we try creating a group Google Folder where we've a number of docs relevant to different topics that we can use to store this kind of information?
Like have folders that divide things by major time periods (Pre 500 BC, 500 - 250 BC, 250BC - 0, etc) then sub-folders for different nations/peoples (Rome, Greece, Egyptians, Persians, Qin, etc), and then specific docs for information about the topic and links to sources for further reading (military, social/political/agricultural/religion)?
It's a shame, I've got a couple of huge ass .pdfs on hand that contain vast amounts of info on medieval cooking, but can't upload them because apparently corrupted. I can read them just fine so I don't know what's wrong with /his/ right now.
I can believe that quite easily, spent a couple of summers in the French countryside. Breakfast there basically consisted of bread. Breads of hundreds of different varieties, textures, and flavors, with some spreads is what a significant chunk of the modern French diet consists of.
Has anyone watched the Supersizers?
It's fairly interesting and entertaining. They recreate diets from years past and survive only on them for a week. Then at the end of the week they go to a doctor to check out how much of a difference it made to their general health.
> Europe growing potatoes was like unlocking a cheat code for feeding people
I got these comics, don't know how true that are though.
I think these are his own descriptions though which is neat
Can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet:
Had anyone else seen that chart of various species' teeth and bodies and their "physiological food" showing humans are frugivores, fruit nuts and plants only?
Frugivores like chimps eat meat when they get the chance, right?
There's also a Swedish version of this called Historieätarna (The History Eaters), which unsurprisingly enough focuses on the history of Swedish food rather than English.
someone started a doc the other day with a lot of contributors already writing things on it but then he closed it down...I have no clue what he intends, but I hope he comes back and wasn't just some swindler collecting book titles for free
>Sugar was available
Here's where I have to stop you anon. You're talking about the 14th century? No, no, no.
While it is true that sugar was available and being used in Europe, brought from the Middle East, the Canary Islands, and other parts of Southern Spain, it was by no means common to to the peasantry. It was so expensive that it was mostly relegated to the nobility or the extremely wealthy. It was not until the sugar boom in the Caribbean in the mid-1600s and on that sugar came to be more commonly found around lower-class households.
Sugar was also used in different ways than what we are accustomed to. Principally, it was used as a spice (chucked in, like most medieval recipes, with other spices), as a preservative, or, far less commonly, as a sweetener, a replacement for honey.
Give "Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History" by Sidney W. Mintz a read, really illuminates a lot about sugar. It is an older book however, so there's probably new scholarship available on the issue.