Historic Cuisine, Culture

These shiitake mushrooms are not terribly rare, but they are costly and delicious. Photo by Marsden Epworth

In a series of video lectures by Ken Albala about food through history at Litchfield’s Oliver Wolcott Library, the point is made again and again: Food is a marker of class, and as individuals rise socially they head for the dishes of the rich and famous.

Albala speaks of barbarian tribes in 6th-century Europe who survived on weeds and grasses and grape seeds and, occasionally, on each other. And then there were the excesses of Imperial Rome. They ate extravagantly, Albala tells us.

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