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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:20 PM   #41

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Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
The old saying, "Pot Luck" usually meant the poorest, cheapest meal a tavern would offer, and it would contain all kinds of things we'd never eat: the parts of animals we're too squeamish to eat these days. Plus anything which came down the chimney and ended up in the pot. The pot was just kept topped up with more unspeakable animal parts and what vegetables were available. It was probably best not to ask.

No wonder the staple diet of the Briton and most others for millennia was bread.
I never knew this was the origin of the term 'pot luck'!

Oh, and bread is still my staple, I can sit and eat freshly baked bread and don't even need butter or anything else, I love it. lol

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Not that bad in many cases, people knew how to get meat in good conditions for long time.

Two basic methods were used:

1. Salty meat. By introducing the meat into massive amounts of salt, if possible, for many days and weeks.

2. Smoked meat. By putting the meat just high over fire, and, depending of the country, leaving the meat to dry even more inside a room.

By both process the meat could be dehidrated and also bacteria were killed and prevented to enter for a long time. Meat could be available for months.

Of course, after such methods you need to cook the meat in some way, specially by the first method. Meat used to become very, very hard and dry.


All of this is true for fish.


However, a true problem in pre-electric societies were the conservation of fruit and the vegetables. Nearly impossible in fact. Some of them could be dried though, like grapes.
I always assumed that curing meats originated before we had refridgerators, is this correct?

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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #42

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Yes, cured meat (either dried, smoked or salted) is a very ancient way of preserving.

Most likely, though, they were non too fussy about eating uncured meat when it was far more dodgy than we'd tolerate. Having said that, the British have a talent for getting food poisoning from meat.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #43

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Yes of course! It was the way to conservate meat and fish. As I commented, the product could endure for months, but it became impossible to eat if not treated in some way.

Cured meat used onboard of Spanish galleons for example, had to be broken with hammers and then put into hot water before eaten.

True fresh meat was the real challenge of the age.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #44

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Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
Yes, cured meat (either dried, smoked or salted) is a very ancient way of preserving.

Most likely, though, they were non too fussy about eating uncured meat when it was far more dodgy than we'd tolerate. Having said that, the British have a talent for getting food poisoning from meat.
There is a reason we have noses and taste buds, ain't evolution great!
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:38 PM   #45

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Cured meat used onboard of Spanish galleons for example, had to be broken with hammers and then put into hot water before eaten.
Something else I didn't know, cheers.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:44 PM   #46

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
Not that bad in many cases, people knew how to get meat in good conditions for long time.

Two basic methods were used:

1. Salty meat. By introducing the meat into massive amounts of salt, if possible, for many days and weeks.

2. Smoked meat. By putting the meat just high over fire, and, depending of the country, leaving the meat to dry even more inside a room.

By both process the meat could be dehidrated and also bacteria were killed and prevented to enter for a long time. Meat could be available for months.

Of course, after such methods you need to cook the meat in some way, specially by the first method. Meat used to become very, very hard and dry.


All of this is true for fish.


However, a true problem in pre-electric societies were the conservation of fruit and the vegetables. Nearly impossible in fact. Some of them could be dried though, like grapes.
What you say is quite true for long-term preservation, say for the winter, for sea voyages or long distance transport. But an eatery in Pepys days would get their carcass from a local butcher, who purchased it from Smithfield, which was an abbatoir as well as a market. (Not too hygienic either if you read Defoe's description). Even beef was aged and folks ate mutton, not lamb. A side of beef might take a month from slaughter to kitchen and then bits of it still being used for weeks after.
Just read how many people died of "the flux" or worse, "the bloody flux".
Housewives were quite concious of the effects of food poisoning, but public eateries were too quick to make an extra copper profit.
An early cookbook of which I had a copy until recently recommended removing the "off" smell of meat by simmering in milk.
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Old November 20th, 2012, 03:48 PM   #47

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Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
Yes of course! It was the way to conservate meat and fish. As I commented, the product could endure for months, but it became impossible to eat if not treated in some way.

Cured meat used onboard of Spanish galleons for example, had to be broken with hammers and then put into hot water before eaten.

True fresh meat was the real challenge of the age.
You should try Biltong!
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Old November 20th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #48

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Yes, and lets not forget the origin of our British mince pies, as served at Christmas.

In the past, they'd work out, around midwinter, just how much food they had left for their animals. It made no sense to let the animals starve, so they'd slaughter the ones they couldn't feed or didn't look like they'd make it, and have a feast. But often, they'd still have some preserved or half rotten meat left, and they did not waste things.

Hence mince pies, originally made with meat with dried fruit and, if you were rich enough, some spices to hide the not-too-fresh meat. Now, the nearest we have to a meat content is suet.

I don't think that it was that they didn't value freshness and cleanliness, merely that whilst such things were desirable, they were not possible or practical. Read Chaucer's prologue, for instance, and see how often the word "clean" appears. Quite a lot, and it was plainly a positive. Erasmus (humanist thinker and monk) was ahead of his time when he went on about cleanliness, but it was not possible for the ordinary people, especially in the towns.

Tanners were banished to the outskirts, and butchers to dedicated areas known as "Shambles" (both York and the North Yorks town of Settle have one). This caused inconvenience for the former trade, but tanning is a very messy and smelly job.

In various jobs, it was impractical to wash one's hands properly, and you'd get called several insulting names if you fussed about it. Jobs like Coal miner, mechanic, trawler fisherman, grave digger....... done them all and dirty hands are the norm.

It must have been far harder in the past.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 10:12 AM   #49

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Fascinating
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Old November 21st, 2012, 06:22 PM   #50
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As someone who served a full appreticeship as a baker and confectioner 50 years ago (I became a fully fledged tradesman in 1962-I also won-in 1959- a Bronze medal for baking a well known British bread called ''Hovis'' which is still available-all this chatter about bread and foodstuffs and xmas pies which Iused to make at home for my family at Yuletide has brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.
Even though because of festive season demand between 1958-61 I had to work 12 hour night shifts between 6PM and 6Am to help meet conmsumer demand. But the paid overtime was handy for meeting Xmas/Hogmany expenses.
But to get back to the original question; even in the 1930's class in Great Britain governed nutrional levels beteen social classes.
For example, in 1935 famous Scottish nutrionist and dietary expert John Boyd Orr (Later Lord Boyd Orr) published a study of inter class eating habits and biological growth in Scotland .
Boyd Or revealed that in 1935 Scottish middle class children in Scotland wwere on average, five inches taler and 11 lbs heavier than their working class equivalents of identical age and this due to the poor diet of the Depression impoverished working classes. In the same period the vitamin deficency induced disease of ricketswhich stunted growth and deformed limbs was endemic in the slum areas of Glasgow and Dundee among the Scottish industrial working class.
Even today ne is struck by the proliferation of elderly Dundonians of both sexes who are around five feet zero ''tall and have bow legs-this is throwback to Dundee's deprived past.
In Manchester, England in 1900 at the height of the Boer War,Army recruiting medical officers reported rejecting sometimes six out of ten o the men who prersented themselves for pre joining medicals because they failed to meet height weight requirements
In Glasgow in 1999 the infant mortality rate was 200 deaths of childen failing to reach their second birthday for every 1000, live births in working class slum areas of the city.
By 1956 post Welfare State the infant motlity rate had dropped to 14 deaths per 1000 live births.
Rickests have been abolished among modern Dundonians of my generation because from 1946 free cod liver oil and orange juice was provided for every child betweeen infancy and 12 years.
But Glasgow Scotland's working class areas, even today, have the worst death rates in the United Kingdom due to much lower life expectancy.
Shettleston and Easterhouse in Glasgow(deprived areas) males have an average life expectancy of around 55 compared to 75 for many affluent areas throughout the United Kingdom-a 20 year gap.
Scotland also has the highesT U.K. death rates from cancer,-especially liver cancer heart disease and stroke in the U.K.
Finally, a question-how many of those posting on this thread have ever tasted the traditional Scottish Hogmany delicacy of ''Black Bun''?-which my fellow bakers and I used to make in prodigious quantities at this time of year?
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