Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taste, The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking, By Kate Colquhoun

This book is just fascinating with a wealth of information. It starts at with pre-Roman times , through the Roman occupation of Britain and continues right up to the present day. Describing the different foods eaten, and how they fit into the culture of the time.

Something that I find interesting is the derivation of words and phrases, so I thought I'd share some of these with you as I read through the years of British cooking history.

Roman Britain

This mosaic, from Chedworth Villa, illustrates how the British and Roman cultures integrated. The character is depicted as Winter wearing a typically British hooded cloak (birrus) and carrying a brown hare introduced to Britain by the Romans. The bare tree is a symbol of Winter.

Some believe that the routes of the imperial army through the south of England can be traced by following the white blossom of the wild cherry trees, distant descendants of the saplings that sprang up wherever the soldiers spat out stones as they marched.

Dinner or cena, taken at twilight, was abundant, often in the form of a convivium, or dinner party,that oiled the wheels of commerce, politics and friendship. The word convivial must originate from this word convivium.

Apicius wrote down many recipes. The first word of each of his culinary instructions gives us the noun that we use to this day, for recipe was the Latin word for 'take'.

Winter stores of food were crucial and salt preserved them. Salt was so valuable that it could form a part of a man's pay or taxes - his salary - so important that an inadequate man would be labelled 'not worth his salt'.

You will see this book in my Lil Bit Brit book store. Where you will find books that I've enjoyed and would recommend.

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