Brewing Beer in Ancient Mesopotamia

Beer was extremely popular in ancient Mesopotamia. Sipped through straws, it was enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Introduction People have been gathering over a beer for thousands of years. As an archaeologist, I can tell you the history of beer stretches deep into the human past – and the history of bars[…]

500 Years of Strange Diets

A medieval kitchen / British Library, Public Domain If your latest diet resolution is already under strain, take comfort from knowing that there’s a long history of people monitoring what they munch. By Dr. Alice White / 01.10.2018 Historian and Digital Editor Wellcome Collection Sure, Doc, I’ll Give Ya Patients! The physicians friend, Charles Williams /[…]

A Brief History of the S’More, America’s Favorite Campfire Snack

Thermodynamics holds the answers to your wildest campfire dreams. (Brent Hofacker / Alamy) The gooey treat couldn’t have become popularized without the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, which brought cheap sweets to the masses. By Dr. Jeffrey Miller / 06.28.2018 Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Hospitality Management Colorado State University Last summer, 45 million pounds of marshmallows were toasted over a fire in America. Many were[…]

A History of Sugar – the Food Nobody Needs, but So Many Crave

Sweeter Alternative/Flickr Human physiology evolved on a diet containing very little sugar and virtually no refined carbohydrate.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Mark. Horton, Dr. Alexander Bentley, and Dr. Philip Langton / 10.30.2015 Horton: Professor in Archaeology, University of Bristol Bentley: Professor and Department Head, Anthropology, The University of Tennessee Knoxville Langton: Senior Teaching Fellow in Physiology, University[…]

The Real Paleo Diet: Early Hominids Ate Just about Everything

Very few people today live a true hunter-gatherer lifestyle – and Paleo diets likely oversimplify what would have been on the table many millennia ago. Thiery Simple characterizations of our ancestors by “Paleo diet” fads widely miss the mark. By Dr. Ken Sayers / 02.17.2015 Postdoctoral Fellow in Primate and Human Evolution Georgia State University Reconstructions[…]

What Was in Colonial Cups Besides Tea?

Cider, water, milk, and whiskey! By Melissa Swindell / 12.06.2012 Executive Director The Wren’s Nest Practically everyone in 18th America drank chocolate and tea, but what about cider, water, milk, and whiskey? Well, of course they drank water and milk. The colonies were an idyllic paradise—lush forests, rolling hills, crystal clear streams. Not so much.[…]

Food in the Roman World

A view of the millstones and oven of a bakery (Pistrinium) in the Roman town of Pompeii which was buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The millstones have square sockets in which wooden beams would have been placed and harnessed to mules in order to turn the stones and so grind the grain[…]

Food and Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Olive trees on the Greek island of Anaxos. Cereals / Wikimedia Commons The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus. By Mark Cartwright / 07.25.2016 Historian The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus which[…]

Feasting Rituals: A Crucial Step Toward Civilization

Coming together for a solstice feast in ancient Peru. Robert Gutierrez, Author provided How did civilization emerge from small groups of hunter-gatherers? Some archaeologists focus on cooperation as the vital ingredient – and find evidence for it in the form of feast-related artifacts. By Dr. Charles Stanish / 07.03.2018 Professor of Anthropology University of South Florida “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of the earliest texts known in[…]

What Did Byzantine Food Taste Like?

Portrait of Alexios III Komnenos in The Romance of Alexander the Great, 1300s, made in Trebizond, Turkey. Tempera, gold, and ink, 12 5/8 x 9 7/16 in. Image courtesy of the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Postbyzantine Studies, Venice, cod. gr. 5 An art historian embraces her foodie side to uncover the tastes of the Byzantine Empire.[…]

How Native American Food is Tied to Important Sacred Stories

The First Salmon ceremony being performed. U.S. Department of Agriculture , Public Domain Indigenous people from around the world revere certain traditional foods as sacred.  By Dr. Rosalyn R. LaPier / 06.15.2018 Associate Professor of Environmental Studies The University of Montana The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, on June 11, that asked Washington state to remove culverts that block the migration of salmon.[…]

Research in the Restaurant: Inspiring Modern Chefs with Medieval Cuisine

Bone-flinging feast? Giles Gasper Think of medieval food and a whole range of not especially dignified images come to mind.    By Dr. Giles Gasper and Dr. Rachel Matthews / 06.02.2014 Gasper: Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, Durham University Matthews: Research Grants and Contracts Officer, Department of History, Durham University Think of medieval food and a whole range[…]

Our Ancient Obsession with Food: Human as Evolutionary Master Chefs

A reconstruction of Homo erectus making fire, Zhoukoudian Museum, China. Darren Curnoe, Author provided Few of us pause to reflect on the hugely important role diet plays in the ecology and evolutionary history of all species. By Dr. Darren Curnoe / 06.05.2015 Associate Professor Biological Anthropology and Archaeological Science UNSW Australia Amateur cook-offs like the hugely popular MasterChef series now in its[…]

The Impact of Early Modern Immigration on Food and Drink, and Vice Versa

A Boyar Wedding Feast, by Konstantin Makovsky, 1883 / Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens via Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Gunther Hirschfeld and Dr. Manuel Trummer / 08.20.2013 Hirschfeld: Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, Universität Regensburg Trummer: Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, Universität Regensburg Abstract There is scarcely an aspect of daily cultural practice which illustrates the processes of transformation[…]

The Early Modern Art of Sculpting with Sugar

In early modern Europe, melted sugar became its own dizzyingly complex artistic medium. By Dr. Darra Goldstein / 09.22.2015 Wilcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian, Emerita Williams College White House chef Bill Yosses’s cast sugar plate with hand-pulled sugar flowers and petits fours created for French president François Hollande in 2014. Photo[…]

Fish Sauce: Ancient Roman Condiment?

Ava Gene’s, a Roman-inspired restaurant in Portland, Ore., incorporates colatura, a modern descendant of ancient Roman fish sauce, into several of its dishes. / Photo by Deena Prichep, NPR By Deena Prichep / 10.24.2013 Fish sauce — that funky, flavor-enhancing fermented condiment — is part of what gives Southeast Asian cooking its distinctive taste. But it[…]

Royal Cavities: The Bitter Implications of Sugar Consumption in Early Modern Europe

Dentist (detail), 1659–81, Jan van der Bruggen. Engraving, 26.6 x 18.7 cm. Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam The exploding popularity of sugar among the European rich led to an unprecedented form of affluenza: dental decay. By Dr. Joseph Imorde / 01.19.2016 Professor of Art History Universitaet Siegen In early modern Europe, the opulence of princely festive dinners[…]

When Chocolate was Medicine: Colmenero, Wadsworth, and Dufour

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644 — National Institute of Health Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought[…]

Chocolate, The Food of the Gods

The magical substance: Cacao Fruit and Leaf, November 27, 1783, Jan Brandes. Graphite and wash on paper, 19.5 × 15.5 mm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam The association between chocolate and love stretches back centuries. This Valentine’s Day, indulge in a decadent aphrodisiac recipe you can make at home. By Maite Gomez-Rejón / 02.12.2015 Chocolate. The ultimate aphrodisiac. Once available only[…]

Seven Global Christmas Food Traditions

Japanese Christmas cakes in production in Nagoya, Japan. (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images) By Kevin Pang / 12.21.2017 Editor-in-Chief The Takeout Certain dishes are obligatory on the American Christmas dinner table—ham, mashed potatoes, pie, gingerbread. But why not baby back ribs? Battered shrimp? Why isn’t there Christmas chili mac? Tradition comforts, but tradition[…]