History Unplugged Podcast
1h 3min2022 JUL 14
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You and your ancestor from 1,000 years ago have almost nothing in common. Your clothes are different. Your worship rituals are different. Your thoughts about the opposite sex are definitely different. Almost the only similarity is that both of you are driven to obtain food. In fact, one could say that civilization itself began in the quest for food. In this episode, Professor Ken Albala of the University of the Pacific puts the subject of food and its importance in history on the table. Ken has studied widely on the types of cuisine that would be featured at a Roman feast, a medieval banquet, or a Renaissance Italian civic celebration. He’s ground Italian flour to make the sort of bread one would eat in Pompeii. He’s made stewed rabbit in a homemade clay pot the way an Elizabethean peasant would. He hasn’t tried field-mouse-on-a-stick (a popular Roman delicacy) but probably not for lack of trying. We discuss how Roman food reflected social rank, wealth, and sophistication; why the Middle Ages produced some of history’s most outlandish and theatrical presentations of food, such as gilded boars’ heads, “invented” creatures, mixing parts of different animals; and cooked peacocks spewing flames; modern foody gastronomy; and finally, one of my favorite desserts, Turkish Chicken pudding.

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