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On this day ten years ago…
via Maps Pinpoint Ancient Food Snobs’ Best Bets

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Topic:  Gourmet Map

My Thoughts:

I found this information while doing research on The Deipnosophists which I am including because because it pertains to food.

The Deipnosophistae was originally in fifteen books. The work survives in one manuscript from which the whole of books 1 and 2, and some other pages too, disappeared long ago. An Epitome or abridgment was made in medieval times, and survives complete: from this it is possible to read the missing sections, though in a disjointed form.  

Food and cookery

The Deipnosophists is an important source of cookery recipes in classical Greek. It quotes the original text of one recipe from the lost cookbook by Mithaecus, the oldest in Greek and the oldest recipe by a named author in any language. Other authors quoted for their recipes include Glaucus of Locri, Dionysius, Epaenetus, Hegesippus of Tarentum, Erasistratus, Diocles of Carystus, Timachidas of Rhodes, Philistion of Locri, Euthydemus of Athens, Chrysippus of Tyana and Paxamus.

A UC Davis food geographer and a computer technologist are creating maps to the best cheeses, wines, breads and assorted delicacies throughout the Mediterranean, but there’s a catch.

These are maps based on the eight-volume “The Deipnosophists,” written by Egyptian author Athenaeus 1,800 years ago. The book, according to ancient-food expert Louis Grivetti, is what might be considered the bonus edition of “Gourmet” magazine circa A.D. 200.

Grivetti discovered that the most sublime olive oil was produced in the southern Italian town of Thurii, the most superior milk goats were raised on the Greek island of Scyros and the cuisine on Chios, an Aegean island off the coast of Turkey, “was best known for its dainty dishes.”

“Back then it was the guidebook to the known world, from Iberia to central Europe to India and North Africa,” Grivetti says.

Grivetti is producing his own 21st-century book that draws from Athenaeus’ recounting of a long, conversational feast. During each course, dinner guests were asked to pinpoint where the best of Mediterranean foods were being produced, using Roman and Greek citations.

“There were 1,500 ancient works cited by author and title, but fewer than 15 percent of those still exist,” Grivetti says. “However, we’ve found that by looking at the existing sources, they were cited correctly, for the most part.”

With the computer assistance of colleague Matthew Lange, Grivetti will document, among other foods, 500 to 600 ancient wines with appellations by district. He will also trace superior breads, cakes, fruits and vegetables to their classical bakeries and gardens.

The maps will show the tastiest water and most original breads in the shapes of animals came from the district of Attica, which included Athens, while Sicily boasted the choicest cheese and Cyprus the sweetest pomegranates.

Grivetti’s book, due in 2005, will also allow for comparisons between ancient Mediterranean food patterns and today’s Mediterranean diet, considered one of the healthiest in the world.

Original article

UC Davis News and Information

January 2004

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