Foodstuffs available around 400 BC

Nice little food timeline here, although it would have been better with complete sources.

So… just introduced in 400 BC: beets – but just the leaves. Romans call it beta. Aristotle mentions the red variety the 4th Century, Theophrastus green ones.

Timeline says bananas were available, but the linked text says 3rd Century BC. Much smaller than today for sure, and plantain-like.

Peppercorn, garden cress, vinegar (the legions!) were already known. So were sausages, artichokes, etc. Great stuff.

Lots of foodstuffs came later and thus were not available to our 4th Century denizens: most shellfish (a shame), chestnuts, eggplant, omelets, etc. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some were already present but absent from the current historical record.

Further research: how was food prepared, especially cooked? What kind of ovens?

2 réponses à “Foodstuffs available around 400 BC

  1. I’m amazed that chocolate’s been around for so long…since 1500BC? wow. And yes, I’m sure people were eating shellfish ages ago as well, people that lived by the seaside or on small islands probably didn’t have much choice there.

  2. Ah yes, chocolate. Used in drinks at first, apparently, sometimes with alcohol. Not in Europe before the Spanish conquest, of course. One of many gifts South America bestowed upon the world.

    Yes, I’m puzzled too by the shellfish thing. Lobster and shrimp I can understand – they are sea creatures, not that easy to reach. But crabs? Maybe it’s a question of classes. Until recently, eating shellfish was considered beneath the ruling classes, so it’s possible it did not appear in literary sources. How times change!

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