At the first glance history of how and what exactly do we eat seems a bit far from hospitality, but when you think about it, it’s actually the core of our industry. With all the modern things in food today sometimes we have a feeling that the history is spinning, and it’s actually true. So it might seem good to understand the past better in order to understand where we’re heading.
In this piece we won’t be focusing on history of specific foods, otherwise it could take an Encyclopedia Britannica sized article to cover, bu rather we will focus on general trends about this matter.

Of course, people have been eating since the beginning of times, otherwise humanity won’t survive, but the quality and nature of this food has changed quite a bit since then.

Initially, when people didn’t know how to cook properly and cook agriculture, main food and energy source was meat. Occasional vegetables were also included.

After that people learned how to grow cereals and it was a breakthrough. Cereals are great source of carbohydrates and that was amazingly helpful for people who had a pretty active lifestyle (compared to what we have now) – since it was a great source of energy. Cultures like Mayan learned to make porridge, and it is popular on their modern places of habitat even now. At the same time people learned that cereals contain oils which can be extracted and used separately for cooking purposes.

Fruit was also very popular back than as an easy-to-get food.

People learned how to make different animals domestic. And that was another great source of easy-to-get meat (you wouldn’t need to hunt it all day long – now it’s at your backyard) and more importantly, milk. This is where people learned how to do cheese and other milk-containing products like butter.

What is interesting, people were eating fish throughout this time, so there need in fat acids was compensated.

In older times people used to make food for themselves and their families, but even earlier than that, when duties in their communities were divided, there were dedicated people to do agriculture, for example. There will be a return to similar state of affairs later on. And that will be an ancestor of modern food industry as we know it.

In the 16-17th century people are starting to use kitchen appliances as we know them know, and they were quiet similar to what you see in your local Home Depot. By the way, things like forks or spoons were available even earlier than that, but mostly by the rich. The latter, however started to make these out of gold or silver, to distinguish themselves from the public.

In the same 17th century tea and coffee became popular, and tea/coffee shops were appearing even with faster rate than they are now. That gave a boost to economy since international trade was involved.

Even more interesting, as the industry started to be effective, it was no possible to produce food on scale, and shops, bakeries were opening everywhere. People didn’t need to spend time on growing their own food, instead they worked on careers they actually liked, earned money and brought it to the butcher, for example – and that we think was another huge breakthrough for economy.

All of the latter events are pretty popular. Some of them are good, like invention of refrigerator, some are not so good, like invention of processed food, but we’re here now and it’s good to remember about the history.

The collection of links and material on these pages are a small part of what is available to you on the internet:

http://www.localhistories.org/food.html

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HistoryIndex.htm

http://www.rachellaudan.com/getting-started-in-food-history

http://quatr.us/food/

Every item listed in ‘by subject’ have been crossed-referenced to make your search easier.

Some subjects may be crossed-referenced in more than one location depending on the topic.

Educators: Please let us know if you want a particular segment of Food History or topics added to to our pages to help with your curriculum or lesson plans

Visitors: We welcome your advising us of links/topics that can be added to this section please email all inquiries and comments to links@hospitalityguild.com