The Flavors Archaeobotany Forgot

Author(s): Christine A. Hastorf

Year: 2018


Archaeobotanists find herbaceous plants in their collected macrobotanical collections regularly. Usually they are associated with animal fodder and fuel. But what if they were condiments? Recently there has been more information on wild herbaceous plants and insects as part of rural people’s cuisines. These oft-hidden ingredients should be recalled when taxa lists are studied, as some could have been important if rarely used spices and flavoring ingredients. We see, for example, that some creations in Europe’s cuisine are entirely composed of what some might call weedy species. Consider the ingredients of cordials across Europe, drinks that can include up to 15 ‘wild’ taxa. These plants were collected, nurtured and cultivated in and around kitchen gardens and houses. For example, the current Italian kitchen garden weed Portulaca was not only eaten in salads in the past and into the present in some rural locations, but it also interestingly has helpful blood pressure lowering capacities, further suggesting that local weeds that grew next to people’s houses and in their nearby kitchen gardens were potentially essential to cuisines, flavors, as well as the health of the inhabitants.

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The Flavors Archaeobotany Forgot. Christine A. Hastorf. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444855)

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Abstract Id(s): 20141