The History of everything

I had a four day weekend over Easter, and I spent it cooking and reading, both real treats for me. The gift of goat meat sent us on a Mediterranean cooking binge, and made me get out a cookbook I had neglected for some time, A Mediterranean Feast, by Clifford Wright. It is 815 pages of the history of Mediterranean food from Spain to Turkey, and all the countries in between. There are hundreds of recipes as well as references. He writes extremely detailed information about each of the recipes and the history of this food and the people who ate it from the Middle Ages to the present. His main emphasis is that the Mediterranean food that we know today is very strongly influenced by the Arabs, and that many food writers of the past have ignored that fact.

One of my favorite comments is in the section devoted to the history Greek and Turkish food, and the stubbornness of Greek food writers and historians to acknowledge the influence of the Ottomans on Greek cuisine,  “Unfortunately, there are no comparative historical studies of Greek and Turkish food by disinterested third-party scholars. In any case, all claims regarding the heritage of Greek food must by taken with a grain of salt….” (p. 219).  Wouldn’t it by fun to be such a disinterested third-party scholar?

It is hard to decide if this book is more of a cook book or a history book. I think it succeeds at both. I would love to write such a book, although I am not sure what I would write about. I suppose a history of children’s play would be fun, as I am a play therapist.

What kind of  history book would you like to write?   What Mediterranean countries have you visited?

26 thoughts on “The History of everything”

  1. To answer your last question first, and succinctly: not enough. I’ve been to Spain, France, Italy, and Greece, but Croatia, Turkey, and Morocco are high on the list of places I’d love to visit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My sister has been to Turkey several times and loved it. This despite the fact that she’s not an adventuresome eater. She loved the Turkish baths. Husband spent a semester in Malta living with a Maltese host family. I have the distinct feeling that he was not mature enough at the time to fully appreciate what an opportunity that was.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. i intend to go to kosovo with my daughters family soon

      not this year but maybe next

      with my daughter when she graduated travel abroad in florence we did a train trip for a couple weeks and got to go through an “ eastern european country” that the conductor wanted to be paid extra for. i didn’t get off but offered to if he held to his threat
      he settled for $20 and we continued on to prague
      i think it was between prague and huda pest if i remember correctly
      loved both prague and budapest and am really looking forward to kosovo

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I was in the south of France for a week on a barge cruise with my wife, Dad, and stepmom. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven. 🙂

    I’d like to visit Italy, my wife would like to visit Greek Islands, Brother in law LOVES Turkey. But these days, I’m not as adventurous as I once was. Especially with COVID issues like restricted travel, last-minute bans, or quarantines. Not worth the hassle of planning a major trip and then having to cancel at the last minute.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. turkey was like a country where the banks stopped all commercial projects on a day with no exceptions
      many buildings done halfway and stopped
      like mexico 30 years ago

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It was interesting to read about Dubrovnik (Ragusa) and how they only had 8 famines in 500 years because the city dug enormous pits to store grain.


  4. Well, now, Renee, you’ve got me checking to see if the library has A Mediterranean Feast

    I would like to not so much write a history of something as read one, and find myself interested in the histories of regions I read about in either fiction or non-fiction stories… unless we bring it down to personal history. I’ve thought I would write a little about my mom’s life, or that of W’s life partner who died in 2015, as they were each quite the characters in their own way. Or any number of other friends who have passed on. But so far this hasn’t happened.

    I’ve been in a Mediterranean clime just once, on that Viking River Cruise I’ve written about here. We were actually cruising for about half a day, and were otherwise bused to various destinations. (Water in the Rhone R. that spring was so high that cruise ship couldn’t get under bridges.) Still got to experience “cruise life”, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It was also interesting to read that the wonderful Mediterranean food we know today is a pretty modern invention, and that for centuries, the bulk of the population was near starvation, many times living in a hallucinatory state because of the rotten and ergot and mold infested food they ate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Never been anywhere close to over there. Sure hope too at some point. There are a couple Greek restaurants in town that we like but that’s all I got.

    Regarding history, the movie ‘The Blues Brothers’ has always been a favorite. Mostly them music, but the car chases are a fun second. I first saw it as a kid and remember the musicians. Lately I’d downloaded music of Booker T and the MG’s. Also recently watched an old special on Muscle Shoals, the music studio. (By the way, the PBS ‘American Experience’ special on Doc Severinson is really good).
    All this came together recently when I saw a YouTube story about Matt “Guitar” Murphy, co-writing the song ‘Green Onions’. I had no idea what incredible musicians all those guys from the Blues Brothers movie were in real life. I mean I just figured it was a band they put together for the movie. Matt Murphy and Donald Dunn were part of Booker T. PLUS, the drummer from BT was in the Ken Burns series on Jazz. AND the Tonight Show Band, with Johnny Carson, had a lot of members that had played in the Big Band’s back in the day! Hokey Smokes! Those guys were good!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Man, am I messed up — I meant Steve Cropper was part of Booker T.
      Here’s the video.

      (Matt “Guitar” Murphy was also in the movie and also an incredible guitar player, just not part of Booker T).

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Yeah I don’t see the appeal of writing a history book. I’d much rather read a history book. But in terms of travel it’s a pretty big list Italy, Sicily, Greece, including many of the Greek Isles, Spain, Morocco, Turkey (both sides of Constantinople), Monica and the south of France. Have I mentioned before that I love my job?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. When I see the name Monica, my mind goes straight to Lewinsky, but I’m pretty sure you were thinking of Monaco. Though I would have loved to have visited all of the places you have been, I’m not sure I would have lasted long at the pace you’ve been going. Do you have a list of places you’d like to visit at a more leisurely pace by yourself or perhaps with YA?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. In answer to your question I don’t really have a list. I’ve never been to Alaska and I would like to try that but who knows what will happen.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. We’ve been to Italy. It was sort of an off season and we didn’t spend any appreciable time near the water.

    The mention of salons this weekend reminds me of the sort of history I am particularly drawn to. It isn’t military history or political history, the kinds of history that garner the most attention, and it isn’t impersonal history about a place or an industry or an event, although I’ve certainly read my share of those.

    The histories that especially capture my fancy are those that illuminate the way notable, influential individuals connected to each other in unexpected networks and how clusters of remarkable people sometimes—and seemingly by chance—aggregate in a particular place and time.

    An example would be Concord, Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. Imagine a village where Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, the Alcotts, the Channings, Margaret Fuller and any number of only slightly lesser luminaries were residents or frequent visitors. Their interactions and the sorts of networks their associations formed are what fascinate me.

    A lot of the history books I’ve collected fall into distinct themes—utopian communities, spiritualists, bohemian outposts—and a lot of the individuals I have focused on are ones that —Zelig like—had a remarkable talent for making connections and showing up at notable points in history. My interest in connections has given me a singular view of aspects of American history and if I were to write something it would be because I discovered a connection or a nest of connections that had not been adequately explored.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Spain and Italy
    My history would be about the non- Jewish Holocaust victims. Spanish Republicans from the Civil War are of interest to me.
    BTW. If I understand correctly, an Earnest Hemingway biography starts tonight on PBS.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Several weeks ago I watched a documentary about the dancer/singer/actor Gwen Verdon, and till then I had no idea what a spectacular dancer she was. From that movie I wrote down her shows (or excerpts) that I wanted to see – last night we watched Damn Yankees, and I was completely bowled over by her dancing (which was truly the only reason to watch it…). This is one of my favorite ways of learning history – bless Ken Burns, for example, for the history, via video, that they have given us.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. i lived the book trinity by leon uris
    the history of ireland
    i’d love to write about the irish condition
    the food naw but the whiskey yes

    my bucket list is to get to nepal
    new zeland
    central america ie costa rica and honduras
    south africa the pacific islands
    india and scandinavia

    europe is a world i could immerse in forever so is american west .

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Like Ben’s, my Mediterranean experiences have been with Minnesota restaurants. It’s pretty unlikely I will travel there.

    Histories of all kinds interest me, but I doubt I could write one, so I’ll be content to read and marvel.

    Liked by 2 people

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