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Subject: Re: spice trade in the Middle Ages of West Europe
From: (Jay Mann)
Date: Jun 15 1996
Newsgroups: soc.history.medieval,,soc.history,,

Kaa Byington ( wrote:
: Once I was up at Hadrian's Wall in the North of England, and I bought a 
: booklet of recipes for the food eaten by Roman soldiers stationed there 
: overwhelmingly masked any other flavor.  (The closest thing we'd 
: have to 
: it would be anchovy paste--but not very close.)  I think it's safe to 
: guess that the food they were slavering it with must have tasted worse.  
: Perhaps it was rotten.  Perhaps it was some other reason.  I figured it 
: was rotten.  

There is supposed to be an article in an Ecology magazine about 1960 or 
1970 with the topic, "There is no such thing as rotten food".  In this 
the authors demonstrate that long-enough cooking destroys any toxic 
organisms.  I suspect that even toxic metabolites might be partly 
destroyed too.

Can't remember where I read this, but it was in association with a 
mention of a woman biologist who had lived off roadside kills for years.  
Presumably the run-over rabbits, turtles, moles, squirrels, etc. were 
thereby tenderized.  The only store-bought food she had purchased in the 
last two years was some calf's tongue.

Another pertinent story was the biography of an Arctic explorer who lived 
for years with the Eskimos/Innuit on a bay.  They were only able to fish 
three months of the year.  The first month, most of the fish was eaten, 
but a little bit was stacked up.  The next month, less hunger, more 
storage.  The third month was mainly for storing up fish. When the cold 
weather moved in, the piles froze.  During the winter, they ate 
"one-month fish" as the main course, that is, fish that had only 
fermented a month before freezing.  Two-month-fish was the desert, except 
when honoured visitors inspired them to chip off a bit of precious 
three-month fish.  The latter was like a well-aged soft cheese.  This 
explorer wrote that after half a year with these people he also acquired 
a liking for fermented fish.  Indeed, on his return to "civilization", he 
would find that after a wonderful lunch at the Four Seasons he would 
yearn for a tiny piece of three-month fish to complete his meal.

Jay D Mann  <>
Christchurch, New Zealand

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