Savoring the Past

Proper seasoning can make all the difference between a bland chunk of meat and a course fit for royalty. We decided to dig through a collection of 18th and early 19th century cookbooks to see which spices were mentioned. We also took one of the more recognized books and looked at the frequency by which the spices appear in the recipes.

It’s seems to me to be a fairly safe and logical conclusion that the frequency by which particular spices, herbs, and seasonings were mentioned may lend insight into which were more popular. Granted, I can’t be too dogmatic in my conclusions. First, my sample is small. Second, taste preferences in the 18th century varied regionally and culturally just as they do today. So I wouldn’t attempt to apply my conclusions to every 18th century English-speaking cook, but this exercise seems to be an interesting starting point toward understanding preferences…

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