Monday, June 20, 2016

The medieval diet: "White wine makes you piss better than any other wine."

It's where the love of history meets the needs of a foodie.

I Tried a Medieval Diet, And I Didn't Even Get That Drunk, by Sarah Laskow (Atlas Obscura)

The Salerno health regimen was based in the humoral theory of medicine, which is focused on keeping balance among the body’s four humours—blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Foods were thought to possess qualities that could help maintain that balance: each hot or cool, dry or moist. These ideas originated in the ancient Mediterranean world, most prominently with the Greek physician Galen, and were passed to doctors in the Arab world, before returning to Europe.

Way back in the late 1980s, I bought "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China, Greece and Rome," a cookbook by the late Jeff Smith. From the outset, he cautions readers not to expect rich tomato-based sauces in the Roman recipes.

The selection of vegetables in medieval Europe was relatively small, to begin with. It would not have included plants native to North or South America, which means no potatos, no corn, no tomatoes, no avocados, no peppers, and no beans (with the exception of fava beans). Spinach came from Persia, via Arab conquests of southern Europe, in the 800s, and gradually replaced other greens, like sorrel. Sugar first reached Europe in 1148, when Crusaders brought it back from their war, but it was a luxury product, with limited availability, for centuries. Coffee didn’t come regularly until the 17th century.

She can't do without coffee, but otherwise the author of this post imagines the medieval diet, and actually lives it for a few days.

No comments: