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Food Timeline FAQs: national gastronomy.....Have questions? Ask!

  • Why study national gastronomy?
  • What questions to ask?
  • recommended reading
  • influence on American cuisine
  • celebrating diversity
  • Asian food in America
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • Canada
  • China
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Why study national gastronomy?
    "Foods and food preparation grow out of and reflect the living conditions of peoples. Preference determined by conditions become tenacious, a part of differing cultures. In a world where attitudes have been determined chiefly by reactions to differences, what people eat and the way they eat it has long been one of the factors of prejudice. In a world where attitudes are progressively more deterimined by understanding of similarities, the same difference become, as usual, contributions to the goodness of life. Meeting the basic need of food through the ages has been a process in which nearly every major attribute and urge of man appears--courage, skill, inventiveness, and even the most significant of the inner drives of the race. Development of the arts of cookery represents the inborn urge toward betterment as truly as any other development. The simplest and most unconcious approaches were of the same essence as the new science of nutrition or the technique of quick-freezing. As people and goods have become more mobile, diverse foods and more diverse culinary arts have spread, slowly through a long period, much more rapidly now. The channels run in all directions and eventually will reach all peoples. Appreciation and adoption of the foods and cookery of many peoples progress; it can be progress toward better living in its largest aspects, far beyond the gastronomic. This United Nations cookbook is meant to help this be so. It can be useful for many natural and easly observances of United Nations Day [October 24th], the only day simultaneously celebrated in many nations throughout the world."
    The World's Favorite Recipes from the United Nations: Over 100 Tested Recipes, edited by the American Home Economics Association, with introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt and William W. Waymack [Harper & Brothers:New York] 1951 (unpaged preface)
    [NOTES: (1) This book offers 100 recipes from 60 countries. The 1964 edition The Cookbook of the United Nations, compiled and edited by Barbara Kraus offers 205 dishes from 112 nations. (2) FT owns a copy of both books. Happy to share recipes from specific countries upon request.]

    What questions do we need to ask?
    Researching the culinary history of a particular country involves more than identifying traditional foods in current cookbooks. What people eat in all places and times depends upon seven key factors:

    Recommended reading:
    These sources are excellent for basic background information on specific country cuisines. Ask your librarian to help you find:

    Foreign influence on American cooking
    The study of German American (Italian American, Greek American, etc.) cooking starts with the study of traditional homeland cuisine and immigration patterns. Wherever immigrants settled, so did their foods and recipes. Over time, some of these recipes morphed into uniquely American foods. Think chicken fried steak and hot dogs.

    The impact of ethnic foods on American cuisine is a study of:

    Sources for learining about immigration & the USA
    ---Port of entry were the first areas of culinary influence (New York, Boston). Study settlement patterns (Germans in Milwaukee, Italians in Pittsburgh PA, Greeks in North Carolina) examine regional influence & local contributions.

    Recommended reading:

    General culinary history:
    [NOTE: Food Timeline library owns the books referenced above. Happy to research & scan pages upon request.]


    Popular traditional cuisine

    French culinary history (general surveys)
    Period-specific source
    Selected primary sources
    [NOTE: Food Timeline library owns the books referenced above. Happy to research & scan pages upon request.]

    Food histories

    American cocktail parties in France

    "Dinard [resort town in France] also filled with Americans, some of whom set new fashions that are likely to become the rage in Paris next Winter. One host has started cocktail parties, at which men and women guests gather before dinner, gossip at small tables and drink mysterious mixtures."
    ---"Suites $100 A Day At French Resorts," New York Times, August 10, 1913 (p. C2)

    "What is known in France as an 'American bar,' recently has become an adjunt to the French country house. There are many chateaux now in which such bars have been installed in the library or smokeroom, with a professional white coated barkeeper behind the counter and high stools ofr 'customers.' These are nearly all occupied at 'cocktail hour,' considered another American institution. Most of these 'American bars' have been installed by Parisians who have contgracted drinking habits said to be American and hwo have bought or rented homes in the country."
    ---"French Homes Instal Bars: 'Cocktail Hour' Also Adopted as an American Custom," New York Times, February 21, 1926 (p. 2)

    "One of the most notable aspects of the Americanization which has beset Europe in late years--the increasing vogue of the cocktail--has just been brought formally to the attention of the French Academy of Medicine. In the opinion of Professor Guillain, and authority on neurology, who addressed the Academy on the subject, the cocktail had become a genuine danger. It is a phase of what is regarded in France as the American peril, upon which a good-sized library has been written in the past few years...The American motor car is admittedly a menace...because it is so well made...The same is true of the cocktail. In America it is so happened that, almost coincidental with the official proscription of all alcoholic beverages, the cocktail acquired an unprecedented social importance. And Europe, which, to the outspoken dismay of the more conservative, now eagerly seizes upon American fads, good and bad, promptly to the the cocktail...Alcoholism, said M. Guillian...was increasing among the wealthy. The reason, he found, was the cocktail, which induced undue excitement, gastric troubles, depression, epileptic attacks, and was the direct cause of numerous motor accidents...It was pointed out that many young women were victims of the cocktail habit...If a French cook, emerging from his see how his guests are enjoying his creations, should find them drinking cocktails before tasting of his poulet cocotte, he would feel like going back to his kitchen and putting arsenic in the next course. Nothing could offend him more deeply, unless it be the smoking of a cigarette between dishes, which he also looked upon as an atrocious American habit. For in France the cocktail is regarded as a menace to the ancient art of cookery...Its sharpness dulls the palate and makes one incapable of fully appreciating the fine qualities of a culinary masterpiece, and the French are disposed to assert that a people who knew how to cook would never have invented the cocktail...Wine, whether cooked with the food or drunk while eating, contributes an aroma and a flavor which enchance one's sensibiltiy to the eight art, as cookery is sometimes called in France: but the cocktail is considered a crude stimulant which deadens the powers of appreciation. Its popularity in certain limited circles of French taste, a weakening of French traditions, which resulted from the shock of the war. In many parts of Paris, sometimes even in remote quarters where no Americans ever go, the sign 'American Bar' may be seen upon the awnings of cafes...In the nineteenth century in France the smart thing to do was to ape the English. Nowadays it is ape the Americans; and the cocktail party, between 5 and 7 o'clock, has begun to attain something of the status of a social institution, especilly in circles where French, English and Americans habitually mingle. In Angouleme and Toulouse they probably do not know what cocktails are, not to speak of cocktail parties; but in cosmopolitan Paris, and at the seaside and mountain resorts regarded fashionable, the cocktail has com into an established vogue...British physicians, like the French physicians...have dispapproved the cocktail on the ground that it often contains wine and spirits mixed, and that absinthe and vermouth, both of which are sometimes used in making cocktails, are nerve stimulants which create false appetites. But the most damning criticism is that made by a recent English commentator, who told his English compatriots that the cocktail was 'ill-bred.'"
    ---"Cocktail Menace is Seen In France," Harold Callender, New York Times, June 16, 1929 (p. XX2)


    Every country presents a unique buffet based on its geography, history, and people. What people eat in all times and places is a function of where they live (country? city?), who they are (religion/ethnic background) and how much money they have (wealthy usually eat better than the poor).

    Historic overviews--web links & recommended reading:

    Selected traditional dishes

    16th century English sailor fare
    16th century British sailors were lucky to get anything edible at all. Rations (Royal or merchant) were basic, not especially nutritious and often rotten. There were no recipes. Cooks did their best to reconstitute/heat up dried or salted foods. Ships biscuit (hard tack) was crumbled in to fill the belly. The average sailor lived a really hard life with little sustenance. Officers and owners fared better in the short run (because they had money to purchase better foods). In the long run, the ate the same as their enlisteds. Fresh meat, fruits and vegetables can only last so long without modern refrigeration.

    "[Naval] rations on paper were reasonable enough: the sailor was supposed to have a pound of biscuit and a gallon of beer a day, with a pound of salt meat four days a week and fish on the other three; the soldier's rations, which were included in his wages, ran on much the same lines, except for him a daily ration of butter and cheese and sometimes vegetables (so sadly lacking at sea) wasa practicable, while meat or fish might come only once a week, washed down by a less generous beer allowance which could be supplemented locally by other dinks. But these rations often existed on paper only; then the soldier had to 'live on the country' as best he could, while the seaman, whose chief trouble was that the food went bad and the beer turned sour, just had to starve."
    ---Elizabethan England, A.H. Dodd [B.T. Batsord Ltd:London] 1973 (p. 214)

    Food & rations on Drake's Golden Hind & Food on the Mary Rose: Mary Rose.

    Captain Cook's rations & mess
    Captain James Cook provisioned his ship for a two year journey. He expected to supplement these rations with indigenous fare. Adequate fresh water and antiscorbutics to ward away scurvy played critical roles in his success.

    What kinds of food and drink were consumed on Cook's ships?

    "In his journal for July 1772, Cook gives the following account of the provisions placed aboard the Resolution and Adventure...Biscuit, flour, salt beef, salt pork, beer, wine, spirit [distilled alcohol], pease [dried peas], wheat, oatmeal, butter, cheese [hard], sugar, oyle olive [olive oil], vinegar, suet, raisins, salt, malt, sour krout [sauerkrout], salted cabbage, portable broth [dessicated soup], saloup, mustard, mermalade [marmelade] of carrots, water..."
    ---Sailors & Sauerkraut: Excerpts from the Journals of Captain Cook's Expeditions All Pertaining to Food With Recipes to Match, Barbara Burkhardt, Barrie Andugs McLean & Doris Kochanek [Grey's Publishing:Sidney BC] 1978 (p. 23)

    Where live animals were taken on board?
    Yes. "...cows, sheep, pigs, chickens...The live-stock was for leaving on desert islands needful of such provender and the poultry was to provide eggs during the voyage."
    ---Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 12)

    Could the crew bring their own food on board?
    Yes. Generally, the higher the rank, the more "personal" food was packed. This was a matter of economy (wealthy people could afford to supply their own consumables) and space (officer's quarters were roomier than regular crew).

    "Individuals, particularly the officers, supplemented their needs with personal provisioning; this might be Madeira [a sweet wine] brought on board for their own use. In the case of the was usually what serendipity delivered into their laps: lying fish or tired albatross."
    ---Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 15-16)

    What was a typical weekly menu for the crew? "Each man was allowed every day one pound of Biscuit [thick, hard cracker] as much small Beer [very low alcohol] as he can drink or a pint of Wine, or half a pint of Brandy, Rum, or arrack [alcoholic beverage], they will have besides on

    Monday. Half a pound of Butter, about ten ounces of Cheshire Cheese and as much boiled Oatmeal or Wheat as the can eat.
    Tuesday. Two 4 pound pieces of Beef, or one four pound piece of Beef three pounds of Flour and one pound Raisins or half a pound of suet.
    Wednesday. Butter and cheese as on Monday and as much boild Pease as they can eat.
    Thursday. Two 2 pound pieces of Pork with Pease.
    Friday. The same as Wednesday.
    Saturday. The same as Tuesday.
    Sunday. The same as Thursday.
    ---Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 23-24)

    Compare with
    16th century sailor foods.

    What is scurvy?
    Scurvey is a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C. Without remediation, it is deadly. Since fresh fruits and vegetables were not possible on long voyages, other foods had to be substituted. Captain Cook was committed to ensuring his crew received plenty of Vitamin C.

    How did Captain Cook prevent his crew from getting scurvy?
    "Customarily, on ocean voyages lasting longer than three months, scurvy decimated the crew, and it was common practice to double overstaff in preparation for the toll of this nutritional deficiency disease. By the middle of the eighteenth century it was known how to prevent scurvy; James Cook was the first sea captain to put that knowledge into practical application, and he practiced those principles with such vivacity that on none of the three voyages did any man die of scurvy."
    ---Sailors & Sauerkraut (p. 13-14)

    Which foods were brought to prevent scurvy?
    Preserved foods high in vitamin C were provisioned by Cook. These included sauerkraut & salted cabbage.

    Rationing in England during WWII

    Compare with rationing in the USA, Germany & Australia.

    British-style Cocktail Parties (20th century)

    Alec Waugh's delightful story,
    "They Laughed when I Invented the Cocktail Party," was published in Esquire, July 1974. Mr. Waugh states his first party was held April 1924. The idea was whimsical yet guests showed up. Mr. Waugh did not make the cocktails, he enlisted a member of the American Embassy for that station. Daiquiris were served. Some of the guests overindulged and had to excuse themselves from dinner. No recipes included.

    "Cocktail parties are the rage of London society just now. Mrs. Wilfred Ashley started it by her evening cocktail parties for politicians. Since then County Grinoli, the artist, has them on Sunday mornings after church, and even Lady Trevor Dawson held one in the interests of the St. Andrews eve ball."Washington Post, December 5, 1926 (p. F12)

    "England has a new social function. 'Mr. and Mrs Nigel Norman...request the pleasure of the Heston 6 p. m. for flying and cocktails.'"
    ---"Air Flips: Flying Cocktail Parties are Popular in England," Washington Post, August 20, 1933 (p. R12)

    The Finer Cooking or Dishes for Parties, X.M. Boulestin offers a delightfuly brief chapter titled "Cocktails or Sherry?" He warns his readers cocktails have a "fatal" effect on the palate if consumed shortly before dinner. He adds: "A properly mixed cocktail can be delightful and potent, able to revive a corpse or a jaded appetite." Mr. Boulestin offers a separate chapter titled "Drinks for Parties," where he extols the virtues of champagne and French wines. No recipes included.

    The Constance Spry Cookery Book commences with a chapter titled "Cocktail Parties." Ms. Spry is quite blunt about how she feels about this type of party and the negative effect of alcohol on the palate. That's what makes this particular passage, and its placement, most intriguing. Her book offers general instructions on service and food but nothing regarding alcoholic beverage service. The only alcohol (except for cooking purposes) addressed is wine. Recipes including Cream cheese canapes, Celeri farci, Cheese straws, Walnut sables, Savory eclairs (filled with shredded chicken, ham, tongue, salmon, sardines), Toasted sardine sandwiches, Anchovy rolls, shellfish canapes (crab, lobster, shrimp), Devilled kromeski, Mushroom rolls, Bacon rolls in dropped scones, Stuffed grapes, Stuffed Prunes, Salted and devilled nuts, Cocktail sausages, Potato sticks, Chutney biscuits and Bouchees.(p. 1-20; happy to scan & send recipes).


    Historic overviews & popular dishes

    [NOTE: Food Timeline library owns the books referenced above. Happy to research & scan pages upon request.]


    Historic overviews & popular dishes

    [NOTE: Food Timeline library owns the books referenced above. Happy to research & scan pages
    upon request.]


    The history of Italian food is a fascinating and complicated subject. Not quite sure how much information you need, so we are sending you a variety of sources to begin your project:

    Traditional favorites/basic overview:

    Recommended reading
    1. Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and their Food/John Dickie
    2. Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink/John Mariani
    3. Food Culture in Italy/Fabio Parasecoli
    4. Foods of Italy/Waverly Root
    5. Foods of the World: Italy/Time-Life Books
    6. Italian Food/Elizabeth David, 2nd ed.
    7. Oxford Companion to Food/Alan Davidson "Italy." (also has separate entries for specific foods)
    8. Oxford Companion to Italian Food/Gillian Riley
    9. World Atlas of Food/Jane Grigson, editor
    10. You Eat What You Are/Thelma Barer-Stein

    Historic surveys

    1. Cambridge World History of Food, Kiple & Ornelas, Volume Two
      ---Mediterranean, Southern & Northern Europe (extensive bibliographies for further study)
    2. Treasures of the Italian Table, Burton Anderson
    3. Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-five Centuries of Sicilian Food, Mary Taylor Simeti
    4. Food: A Culinary History, Jean-Louis Flandrin & Massimo Montanari (several chapters)
    5. Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, Alberto Capatti & Massimo Montanari
      ---there are dozens of books that are period/region specific. If you need to focus on a particular time and/or place, your school's librarian can help you find the sources you need.
    6. A Mediterranean Feast, Clifford A. Wright (includes recipes)

    Recommended reading

    Medieval/Renaissance period

    19th century: Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well/Pellegrino Artusi [1891]

    Italian-American cuisine


    Every country presents a unique buffet based on its geography, history, and people. What people eat in all times and places is a function of where they live (country? city?), who they are (religion/ethnic background) and how much money they have (wealthy usually eat better than the poor).

    German rations during WWII: food availability & rationing
    "Goering and Backe devoted considerable energy to boosting the country's home-produced food supply: measures taken included cheap loans to farmers for the purchase of machinery, price cuts for fertilizers, price incentives for producing grain, eggs and the like, and the requirement in some cases to cultivate crops that would provide the raw materials for textile fibres, such as flax, or vegetable oils and fats...From the outset of the Third Reich, hundreds of thousands of young people had been draftd onto the land to try and offset a long-term shortage of agricultural manpower, although many of them were too young, lacked the physical strength, or were too ignorant of the countryside and its ways to be of much use. Even concentration camp inmates were roped into clearing moorland for cultivation. This was not what Darre had imagined when he had set upt the Reich Entailed Farms and the Reich Food Estate...German did indeed become self-sufficient in some basic foodstuffs like bread, potatoes, sugar and meat by 1939, but there were still may products, notably fat, pulses (except lentils), and even eggs where imports were still necessary on a considerable scale to meet the demand...Crop yields for cereals in 1939 were not much better than they had been in 1913. On the eve of war, roughly 15 per cent of Germany's food supplies still came from abroad...German consumers did not do well. More and more foodstuffs were subject to official rationing as the government stockpiled supplies in preparation for war and requisitioned agricultura. workers and craftsmen for arms-related industries. Butter and fat had long been restricted; fruit and coffee were also rationed form the early spring of 1939. Apples remained unpicked because worker had been drafted into the towns. People were urged to grownt heir onw fruit and to make preserved fruit for use in the winter months..."
    ---The Third Reich in Power, Richard J. Evans [Penguin Press:New York] 2005 (p. 348-349)
    [NOTE: German food rationing began Monday, Aug. 28, 1939, four days before the War with Poland.]

    A survey of primary accounts published in USA newspapers

    "A German women's organization has just made an official survey of 140 households with at least two children...Accoring to this survey, 50 to 70 per cent of the income went for food...This food consists mainly of potatoes, cabbage, noodles, oat or black bread, fish (especially herring), cheeese, milk, barley, and finally whale-oil margarine, lard and perhaps even butter... Meat is a luxury included in only onece or twice a week and even then it is reserved mostly for the bread-earning members of the family...As a rule the breakfast consists of bread covered with margarine or lard, and barley coffee. Working men of the family take 'stullen' mammoth sandwiches generally made of bread, lard and sausage, for luncheon. The family meets again at home for dinner consisting of from the most part one dish into which is put all available foods...and leftovers from preceding meals...This worker's one-dish meal is the basis of the one-dish days introduced by the National Socialist regime throughout the nation on one Suday of each Winter month to aid the Winter Relief Fund campaign."
    ---"Reich Housewife is Boon to Nazism," Otto D. Tolischius, New York Times, September 6, 1937 (p. 4)

    "Berlin...Lotteries and bookmaking are legal in Germany, one in which everybody with a healthy appetite places at least two bets every day, is the food lottery. Coffee and rolls are a sure thing for breakfast, but anybody will give odds on what he will get for the two other meals. Those to whom eating is a pleasure, as well as a necessity, no longer ask themselves: 'What shall I eat today?' but mentally speculate: 'What can I get today?' Nomads who eat in restaurants, and know the headwaiter's first name, and tourists need not take the food gamble so seriously. A restaurant menu usually has enough suggestions to make the average customer forget what he intended to eat. Schlichter's, where I ate the other night, offered twenty-six fish and meat dishes as specialties in addition to steaks, chops and a hundred other regular items...If present conditions continue long enough, the home-loving Germans, certainly the city dwellers, will be transformed into a race of diners-out. Those who have the responsibility for filling the home pots and pans are the hopeless addicts in the daily food gamble, as an extract from a housewife's diary shows: 'Sunday--half a lemon decorated my grilled flounder at the hotel--such extravagance--and every order in the dining room was enough for a starving stevedore, naturally much of it uneaten and wasted; tomorrow we start housekeeping. 'Monday--At breakfast we decided on pork chops for dinner. None of the neighboring shops had pork, but one did produce two small, not too juicy beefsteaks...Vegetable trays had only green beans, kohlrabi and green peppers. No sho had onions or lard... 'Tuesday--Bought three eggs, which a girl clerk had apparently had hidden behind the counter. A woman wanted two pounds of fresh green beans which were inside the store, but the proprietor, arrogant since people must take what they can get, said she could not have them until the stale ones outside were sold. Got some lamb chops, the first I've seen, and the stores had stew beef and pork which can be boiled in sauerkraut. 'Wednesday--Tried to get more eggs but was told there would not be any until next week, if then... the city was out of onions...[and] garlic...'Thursday--Found a small vary the usual peaches, plums, and grapes...Also good tomatoes and lettuce for salad, which appear about twice a week...The [store] proprietor... made sure that we would not feed [rice] to our dogs before he would sell a pound. He sold me two oranges, though his orders were to sell the German apples first. 'Friday--Good fresh fish for dinner but shopped in vain for lemons, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, green beans and carrots on the trays...still no onions. 'Saturday--One store had a leg of lamb for roasting, and others had a supply of beef and pickled pigs feet. Windows of those handling smoked meats are full of hams and countless varieties of sausages, but cold lunches become monotonous. All had green corn in husks, an idea from America, but at caviar prices. A dissapointment when cooked, for it was field corn, tasteless and woody. 'Sunday--Ate in a restaurant and from the way they are crowded most of Berlin must be dining out...In Berlin the early bird at the weekly market or stores gets the chops, if there are any...Some days they cannot get pork, an other days it may be mutton or another staple. Butter and lard already are rationed, and talk is that the police will issue cards for meat before the Winter is over. Each adult is allowed half a pound of butter and as much lard, each week, if there is any lard. Each ration card is good at a designated store. The supply of adulterated butter is sufficient...Peacetime rationing of meat and other foods, if it goes further, might have unpleasant results. Little if any of the supply is wasted now, as stores rarely have any which is not sold, and the thrifty German, at present prices, is not buying more than absolutely needed. Most Germans always have bought from day to day. Few have ice boxes. In Germany, not only meat but almost all vegetables, fruits and other foods are sold by the pound. An American pound is 9-10ths of a German pound and a dollar is worth 2.49 5/8 reichsmarks. Store prices of a few typical articles (per American Pound unless stated otherwise) are: Beef tenderloin, 68 cents; beef pot ropast, 36 cents; soup beef, with bone, 31 cents; soup beef, boneless, 43 cents; hamburger, 38 cents; goulash veal, 45 cents; pork tenderloin, 54 cents; pork kidneys, 38 cents; mutton chops, 41 cents; boiled ham, 65 cents; chicken, 45 cents; smoked eel, 86 cents; head cheese, 36 cents; liver sausage, 65 cents; Summer salami, 70 cents; coffee, $1.08; bread, 8 cents; butter, 58 cents; fresh tomatoes, 8 1/4 cents; lettuce (head), 4 cents; green corn, 9 1/3 cents; green string beans, 9 cents; princess string beans, 14 1/2 cents; dry onions (peck), 51 cents to $1.13; cabbage, 4 cents, mushrooms, 26 cents; eggs (dozen), 60 cents;...peaches 18 cents; pineapple (one) $1.80; cantaloul, 68 cents; bananas, 18 cents; grape fruit (one) 20 cents; cream (quart), 41 cents; sugar loaf 16 cents; sugar, pulverized, 14 cents; apples, 16 cents, German Camembert, 36 cents...These prices are for the American or other foreigner who lives in Germany and who pays 40 cents for a reichsmark. The also are the prices for the German whos basic wage is between $17.50 and $26.50 in a week of forty-four hours. Pay of skilled workers is higher and, with the present shortage of labor for industrial and urban construction, may work two shifts a day...Germany never grew all the food it needed, and the balance must be imported...Gresh foods from neighboring contries always supplemented what the home farmers grew, and now Germany has cut down on food imports. The excuse is that the country needs its foreign exchange to import war materials. True or not, that is what the people believe and tell each other."
    ---"Daily Food Gamble is Lot of Germans," Junius B. Wood, New York Times, September 19, 1938 (p. 7)

    "German citizens were notified today that because of the emergency they must have official certificates to buy a long list of artilces in the neighborhood store...It was announced officially today that the purpose is a just distribution of necessities. Germans recalled that during the World War similar rationing schemes were not introduced until the war had been under way about two years. Now German has determined to conserve its admittedly scanty supplies of some materials before the emergency becomes acute."
    ---"First Pictures in America of Nazis' Heaviest Guns," Los Angeles Times, August 27, 1939 (p. 3)

    "Meat rations, including sausages, in the Berlin area, will be reduced from 700 to 500 grams [slighly more than a pound] weekly during the next two weeks...Separate cards were provided for bread, flour, meat, fats, marmalade, sugar and general provisions. One card also provided for produce, such as eggs, rice, grain and other articles that will be determined by food officials. There will be special bread, meat, and fat cards for children up to six years and between six and fourteen. "
    ---"Berlin Meat Ration Cut Down," New York Times, September 13, 1939 (p. 3)

    "The workers and not the upper classes are feeling the pinch of food rationing in Germany. There are still a lot of people in Berlin living quite comfortably, but they are spending a lot of money to do it. Choice cuts of meat and other food supplies can be obtained if you want them--and have the price. It is true that no one can get much more than the quantity provided by the ration cards, but the ration cards say nothing about the quality...The important hotels and certain restaurants in Berlin continue to present quite imposing menus. The rub is that it costs you about $3 to get they type of meal costing 80 cents to $1 in the United States. There is even one restaurant ready to serve at all times steaks that would do honor to a first class New York restuarant, if you have the price. But to realize how bad and meager German food has become, you must try to eat in an ordinary restaurant. On several occasions I found only a few vegetables obatainable at meal time. The meat and fish had been cleaned out but the earlier arrivals. And the meat the average restaurant serves must have been in storage for years. Beef, pork and veal all taste the same--or rather they don't taste at all...Lunch at such a place costs the equivalent of 65 to 75 cents, and this is expensive or the average German. The food in the really cheap restaurants is something you don't forget in a hurry. I couldn't eat it. The meal consisted of potatoes which must have been stored for two years, decked out with strange gravies whcih tasted like liquid plaster. Sometimes this is accompanied by fish, cabbage and possibly spinach, served in small quantities and obviously of the same state of antiquity. The bread, in order to hold down consumption, becomes increasingly stale. The idea evidently is to cut consumption to a minimum by making bakers' products as unpalatable as possible...There is little sign, however, of any lasting resentment as yet against food rationing."
    ---"German Worker Feel Pinch of Poor Food at High Prices," Albion Ross, Los Angeles Times, September 20, 1939 (p. 3)

    "One of the factors working against German favor in a long war is her food supply...'Complete or near self-suffiency has been achieved for sugar, potatoes, bread grains, cabbage, carrots, plums and cherries. However, for such essential items as meat...and...and edible oils. German output remains heavily on the deficit side. The 'fat gap' is the most serious food problem confronting Germany because nearly one-half of normal requirements must be imported. Normally Germany consumes about 1,800,000 tons of fats and oils in the form of butter, margarine, lard and similar products, Imported oilseeds, processed in Germany and utilized largely in the manufacturer of margarine, account for about 600,000 tons of the edible oil requirements...Under the food rationing regulations introduced in Germany on August 27, 1939, food allowances for the normal consumer represent substantial reductions below pre-war consumption...However, people performing heavy manual labor, as well as members of the armed forces, receive extra allowences. The report indicates that the rations for normal consumers, which constitutes the larger part of the population, are not sufficient to afford proper and adequate nourishment."
    ---"Following the News: Germany's Food," B.H. McCormick, Wall Street Journal, May 11, 1940 (p. 4)

    "The first signs of a real collapse in the Nazi food system will cause more panic in the Reich than the worst military defeat. So far the German food rationing and supply systems have functioned extremely well although rations have been short, particularly fats. But Allied bombing of food factories and storehouses and the crippling of the transport system plus the loss of Germany's richest agricultural lands in the east have changed the situation. The Germans now associated the duration of the was with the food supply...Daghens Nyeter reported yesterday that the parks and sports fields were being plowed under throughout the Reich for the planting of potatoes and vegetables...Ever since Hitler came into power the German people have been used to the organized rationing of food. Heretofor food has been adequate while strictly controlled, but now supplies are deteriorating rapidly...After the Vistula retreat the first thing done in Berlin was to stretch the weight weeks' rations to nine...The first serious breach of rationing discipline occurred with well-informed party men and wholesalers informing one another secretly on extra sales several days before the public was notified. As a result when the public lined up all the best things were gone. This has become more and more brazen in the past year and the public has become aware of it. When the Russians reached the Oder and Berliners thought the capital might be besiged within hours they suddenly found tradesmen no longer had anything to sell. On the following day goods reappeared. This was the most serious sign of disintigration on the rationing front...Official German data indicate that the 1937 diet of the working family was ...below the 1927..level.'"
    ---"Germany's Food Crisis Grows," Christer Jaederlund, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1945 (p. 6)

    "Last night a food factory was robbed and nearly two tons of sugar and a ton of syrup were stolen...Thieves escaped with more than 300 sausages and two sides fo bacon in the burlary of a slaughterhouse. The German working-class atittude in Hamburg still is anti-British and is generally tending to become hostile. Germans are blaming the British for the failure to provide adequate food...Hambur police were issued tonight 5,000 copies of an order to food store proprietors warning them to set guards on stores during closing hours and to keep all food displays from store windows. Proporietors also were enjoined to keep only a minimum of food on counters and to place th rest in cellars and storerooms under lock and key..."
    ---"33 Drop of Hunger in Hamburg Plant," New York Times, March 23, 1946 (p. 4)

    Berlin Airlift/1948

    Compare with rations in England, Australia & USA.



    Zakuski (appetizers)...Russian dressing.....Service a la Russe..... Russian tea cakes.....Russian tea service

    Spain is a country rich in culinary heritage and famous foods. Each traditional dish tells a unqiue story of history, culture, agriculture, religion, economy, and human taste. As true with most countries, different regions have different specialties.

    Modern Spanish cuisine
    "The most common misconsception about Spanish food is that it is spicy hot. In fact, Spanish foods are noted for their fresh natural flavors and a minimum of seasonings, and many an authentic Spanish dish perpared elsewhere fails simply because of the lack of quality and freshness in the basic ingredients. The staples of the Spanish kitchen include olive oli, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Fresh bread is always on the table not only for each meal but also for each course except dessert. Partly because they are the freshest, and partly because of regional price and preferences, the Spanish cook adds local specialties from land or sea to the staples to produce distinctive regional dishes. Cocida and gazpacho are national dishes of Spain, but there as many variations as there are kitchens, and each variation is stoutly defended as being the best. Fruits and subtle light seasonings, combinations of fruits and nuts with meats and fish, and dishes based on rice are all influences from Muslim times. But the oldest additions to Spain's table--wine and olive oil--have never lost their importance."
    ---You Eat What You Are: People, Culture and Food Traditions, Thelma Barer-Stein [Firefly Books:Ontario] 1999 (p. 394)

    Recommended reading:

    How did the Moors influcence Spanish cuisine?
    The Moorish occupation (711AD--1492AD) left its greatest mark on the region of Spain called Andalucia. Here you will find a cuisine rich with examples of Arab culinary influence. Spices, ingredients, cooking techniques mingled to create a new cuisine. Many of these included sugar and spices.

    "Introductions by the Arabs were...of fundamental importance to Spain's future. They are particularly associated with the use of almonds (the essential ingredient for so many Spanish desserts, baked goods, and confectionery items); with the introduction of citrus fruit (including the lemon and the bitter (Seville) orange...sugar cane and the process of refining sugar from its juice; many vegetables, among which the aubergine (eggplant) was outstanding; and numerous spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, sesame, coriander, aniseed, etc. The Arabs introduced rice to the tidal flatlands of what is now Valencia...The use of saffron in paella is also something whch stems from an Arab introduction."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 741)

    "The occupation of Iberia by the Moors for seven hundred years had a great influence on the cultural and culinary development of both Spain and Portugal. The Moors were a cultured and sophistcated people who brought a new way of life to the Iberians and to the Roman colonists who inhabited the peninsula at that time. Experts at irrigation, the Moors introduced the cultivation of rice, now a staple food, and gourhg wtih them figs and citrus fruits, peaches and bananas and may of the Eastern spices, including cumin and aniseed, which are used so much in Iberian cooking today. They used almonds a great deal in the cooking of both savoury and sweet dishes. The huge groves of almond trees along the Levante coast and the Algarve were originally planted by the Moors. Today, in all the areas of the peninsula where the Moors once ruled, rich and varied rice dishes, little cakes and confections made from eggs and almonds, cinnamon, butter and honey, as well as crystallized fruit and the special turrones, sweet nougats, are part of the Iberian legacy from the East."
    ---World Atlas of Food, Jane Grigson editor [Mitchell Beaszley:London] 1974 (p. 170)

    Two popular examples of Spanish foods influenced by Moorish/Arab cuisine are Polvorones & Paella.

    Selected traditional Spanish foods

    Paella, endless combinations of various meats, fish, shellfish, rice and vegetables, is considered by some to be one of Spain's "national" dishes. Indeed, the ingredients and method of paella make it an excellent culinary example of the Spain's history and peoples.

    "Paella, to be precise the Valencian paella, universally known as a traditional dish in Spanish cooking, takes its name from the utensil in which it is cooked and from the Spanish region on the shores of the Mediterranean where the union and heritage of two important cultures, the Roman which gave us the utensil and the Arab which brought us the basic food of humanity for centuries: rice. The etymological roots of the word are of interest. Going back a long way one finds in the Sanskrit language the word pa, which means to drink, from which were derived the Latin terms patera, patina, patella, meaning a chalice or culinary utensil to be used for various purposes including frying. In Castilian there existed a primitve form of denomination paela and also tapella, so in an ancient dictionary we can read that patella is a pan or paella for frying'...In Isalmic Andalusia there were dishes based on rice with definite traditional and symbolic character, casseroles of rice and fish with spices which were eaten at family and religious feasts. Later on, when rice began to take on the chararcteristic of an everyday dish, it was combined with vegetables, pulses, and also some dry cod, in this way forming a part of the menu during Lent. Along the coast fish always predominates with rice. Perhaps as a hangover of these Islamic customs, in the orchards of Valencia, and as a special celebration, rice was cooked in the open air in a paella-pan with vegetables of the season, chicken, rabbit, or duck. With the sociological changes of the 19th century, social life became more active, giving rise to reunions and outings to the countryside. There also came into being the tradition, still very much alive, that men did the cooking of paella. This rice for special days evolved into a Valencian paella. In 1840 in a local newspaper it was in fact given the name of Valencian paella. By natural process the tradition had already come into being. The ingredeints for the traditional dish are as folows: rice, fresh butter beans, tomato, olive oil, paprika, saffron, snails (or, a curious alternative, fresh green rosemary), water, and salt. The ancient tradition was to eat the paella directly from its pan, so the round pan, surrounded by chairs, was converted into a admirable 'Round Table'. The companions, which their spoons made of box wood with a fine finsih, began to eat, each one drawing out his triangle and limit, then meeting the geometical centre of the paella."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 566-7)

    "Paella is a word that has come worldwide to mean a Spanish dish with a variety of seafood and usually some chicken. However, the word originally referred only to the pan in which the food was cooked--a paellera...Paellas actually come in endless varieties, depending upon the chef and on regional specialties. Those rice dishes that are made in paella pans, whatever the ingredients, are often referred to as paellas, although just as often the name of a rice dish is a description of its ingredients...Although variations on paella abound, no one will dispute that the home of paella, and of most Spanish rice dishes, is Valencia. Rice growing in Valencia was made possible when, more than a thousand years ago, the Romans introduced irrigation, a system later perfected by the Arab invaders. It is thought that these same Arab conquerors brought rice to Valencia in the eighth century. Many centuries would pass, however, before rice would become the staple of the Valencian diet that it is today and become a basic crop of the Valencian economy...Purists insist that...Valencia is the only place in the world to eat a properly prepared paella...Ask a Spaniard what makes a perfect paella and never expect two opinions to coincide."
    ---The Foods and Wines of Spain, Penelope Casa [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1982 (p. 173-4)
    [NOTE: Ms. Casas includes several recipes for paella in this book.]

    Related dishes? Italian Risotto & Louisiana Jambalaya.

    Jamons (hams) from Serrano & Jabugo
    "Spain is famous for its huge dried mountain hams, jamon serrano, eaten raw, made from the lean meat of the wild Red Iberian pig. These are huge hams cured in the mountain areas near Madrid. The temperature is high, the pieces of meat large, so a quick penetration of salt is essential before drying. The fresh meat is packed into a clean cloth sack filled with crystalline salt and then placed on the basement floor. Friends and relatives visiting the house are expected to pop down to the basement and do a bit of jumping on the sack of meat. By compressing the ham, the drying and salting process is speeded up. Nowadays a case of strong Spanish wine can be used to weight the hams instead. By strange association, in the finale of the film Jamon Jamon, the two protagonists beat each other to a pulp using the hard, giant jamon serrano as weapons!"
    ---Pickled, Potted and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Processing Changed the World, Sue Shepard [Simon & Schuster:New York] 2000 (p. 72)

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    Research conducted by Lynne Olver, editor The Food Timeline. About this site.
    © Lynne Olver 2000
    7 February 2015