Meat consumption research – Part 4 Industrialisation and modernisation

See Introduction/aim of research for the background to this work.

As the early industrial countries enriched themselves in the 19th century, the spectre of famine gradually diminished with international market-based trading generally guaranteeing food availability. In these societies, eventually even the poorest members came to be able to afford meat regularly. Rising incomes allowed more of society to eat as only the rich had done in the past making elite cuisine more attainable and widespread.

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Meat consumption research – Part 3 Between agriculture and industrialisation

See Introduction/aim of research for the background to this work.

Much of the information for this part came from Massimo Montanari’s lessons at the university and his excellent book of food history, The Culture of Food (1994).

With the fall of the Roman empire, the power base became shared between what the Romans had distinguished as “civilised” and “barbarian” societies. This brought about a melding of the dominant food cultures, creating a hybrid system where both meat, especially from hunted animals and agricultural produce were both important for food and ideology.

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Meat consumption research – Part 2 The introduction of agriculture

See Introduction/aim of research for the background to this work

It is not known exactly how agriculture spread after emerging in the middle east around 10-15 thousand years ago and political ideas have skewed some of the theories raised from archaeological findings in the last couple of centuries. The political influence often promoted theories of descent from “civilised” farming ancestors rather than from what were considered “savage” hunter-gatherers. Consequently, the idea of hunter-gatherer incumbents being replaced by a wave of “civilised” farming peoples coming from the middle east was preferred by many in the field and seemed to fit the evidence. However, examination of the current state of research leads Richards (2003) to conclude “the majority of European genetic lineages have their roots in the European Palaeolithic.” This suggests that agriculture was a technique that was taken up by existing peoples rather than being the preserve of a conquering or replacing immigrant farming population.

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Meat consumption research – Part 1 Meat and diets in our evolutionary history

San Hunters

San Hunters - Photo by Charles Roffey licensed under Creative Commons license

See Introduction/aim of research for the background to this work

When considering human diets, food requirements and choices it is essential to look at the evolutionary history of our species. This requires looking back at least the couple of hundred thousand years of homo sapiens time on earth and even the previous hundreds of millions of years since our ancestral divergence from other primates. With the relatively recent changes to diet that agriculture and industrialisation have brought, it is especially valuable to consider what has been eaten for most of our evolutionary history.

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Reform Club Menu, 9th May 1846

Reform Club Menu, 9th May 1846

Scan of menu from Alexis Soyer’s book “The Gastronomic Regenerator” found at books.google.co.uk

As part of a food history course we have had with Professor Alberto Capatti, food historian and dean of the University of Gastronomic Sciences we were given an assignment to analyse a menu.  In Colin Spencer’s “British Food, An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History” I found a menu from the Reform Club in 1846, a time when Alexis Soyer, the most famous chef of the time was employed there.  Following are some information about the menu and an analysis of the food on offer…

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