As a famous food blogger, people will often approach me on the street to ask me about food:
- What are those little round things that come in my Chicken McNuggets box?
- Is lizard really meat?
- Have you got a dollar for some food?
But the most common question that I’m asked is if I could give a brief detailed history of food and how it’s evolved from the middle ages, trying to include anecdotes and factual references that can be checked on Wikipedia and the occasional boob shot.
Well, today I’m going to do my best!!
Prior to the middle ages, dinosaurs ruled the earth and their extinction threatened the very nature of creationism. This was a dark period of food history, with the choice of foods limited to roasted meats and dysentery.
Fast forward 1800 years and the French and Greeks introduced delicate food preparations and lemon juice respectively. (It is a little known fact that prior to the 1800s, Lemon juice did not exist outside of lemons.) It was a golden time that the Greeks have tried to preserve, with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary a staple of everything they bloody cook.
Disappointingly, a downside of the Nazis winning World War 2 was the systematic purging of the history of the 19th century – all that remains from this time are document fragments and a premise for a Back to the Future movie.
The 20th Century represents the greatest changes in cuisine of our time – with technology increasing at an ever increasing rate, so too did the food preparations and with it our food tastes. Widespread electricity, steam automation and advances in manufacturing finally allowed people to realise the Soggy Sao dream, a marked improvement on the Soggy Scone of a bygone era.
The early part of the 20th Century consisted largely of dripping, bread and a quaint foodstuff known as “Bubble and Squeak”, a hydrolysed version of bitumen. The 1950s saw the relaxation of rationing and with it, an increase in salt and butter availability, leading to the invention of salted butter sandwiches and roasted butter with salt.
My recollection the food of the 1960s is somewhat hazy, with the invention of LSD and widespread use of marijuana increasing the consumption of – I forget where I was going with this. The important thing is that I got the cream and it’s almost cleared up.
Fashion and food went hand-in-hand throughout the 70s, and its difficult to tell which led which, but the end result was the same – ugly, impractical, inedible with lots of pubic hair.
In the 80s, the microwave became an affordable technology for the home cook. Finally, households had the technology to produce hotdogs and people had a use for the war-issue microwave popcorn they’d been rationed. TV dinners, reheated leftovers and sponge puddings were just some of the products that disappointed adults and children alike.
In the 90s our cuisine followed music and became angsty, with most foods akin to Courtney Love: A sound argument for genocide. But molecular gastronomy came to the fore with foods like saffron infused smoke, mozzarella balloons and citrus-cured jealousy . It was the 2000s that embraced the molecular revolution, led by renowned chefs Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal. A quirk of fate brought these two to the culinary world, having started as magicians they began cooking when Heston had his face bitten off by a tiger during one of their Vegas shows. God bless that Tiger!
Noma, the 12 time best restaurant in this blog entry winner, forged a new frontier, leading people to ‘found’ and ‘foraged’ ingredients and unique methods of cooking – live prawns, seagull and barista are just three of the more unusual ingredients to be found on the Danish menu.
So what will the future hold?
Prominent food technologist Prof Bobby McFerrin thinks that the next food fad will be an extension of the snout-to-tail experience, extending to ablutions and excretions.