Zoidberg: Goose liver? Fish eggs? Feh! Where's the goose? Where's the fish?
Elzar: This is what rich people eat; the garbage parts of the food.
Technically, lobster and crab are crustaceans, not insects ;)
I can’t defend lobster.
Lobster was so plentiful off the coast of New England that it was historically a common man's food -- marketing elevated its status significantly.
Good article here: https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/xy7vzw/lobsters-deli...
I have to imagine that was it at least in part.
The best evidence against it is that spices are expensive, if you could afford them, you could afford fresh food.
As spices became less expensive, TFA argues that became popular among poorer people. And so richer people instead came to emphasize the intrinsic flavors of foods.
But for that to work, those foods had to be high quality, and unspoiled. So, by TFA's argument, it was poorer people who came to use spices to mask low quality and spoiled foods.
Classical French Haute cuisine is heavily flavoured with fats (butter and creame) which required a lot of milk to create, i.e. the yield is low considering how much precious milk one had to put in. That was something that was at the time exclusively for the wealthy.
This is often said but I really doubt that it was ever true. Nobody ate meat that was old/rancid, because (1) that was a great way to get ill, and (2) a cook who let the meat go off would surely have been fired, meat was super-expensive. They knew damn well how to handle it without wasting any.
I'm sure the peasants sometimes ate cabbage that was past its sell-by date, but if that was all you could afford, then clearly you could not afford spices brought from across the world.
I find that hard to swallow.
I think if you are brought up on mutton, then mutton tastes great! Although mutton or hogget is hard to find now.
I generally dislike most European beef dishes because they use tasteless (to me) veal or wintered(?) cattle. I prefer grass fed - probably because that is what I am used to?
And then it seems the same crowd get excited about wild pork or venison - strong flavored - the opinions just seem dissonant to me.
Although I do find ram, billy goat, and old glandy boar are rather too tasty for me!
> I think if you are brought up on mutton, then mutton tastes great
No one has been "brought up on" any kind of meat further ago than the last 100 years or so, people couldn't afford it. People kept animals until they were old and had no other purposes (like milk or wool) before they were killed for meat.
When using better raw ingredients, there is less rot and foulness to mask with spices. Also better storage and refrigeration makes some spices have less of practical benefit.
We know that tastes are related to genetics. Most famously, is the understanding that Asians dislike cilantro at a much higher rate than Africans, and we know a single gene is heavily responsible for the aversion to the specific aldehydes in cilantro.
It's not crazy to think that humans may have a "carnivorous" gene, which controls ones love of meat.
The article is comparing Indian food to food that was only eaten by the European elite. I don’t think it’s an apples to apples comparison. It does give us a history of western food as we eat it today. Lots of good food history comes from the haute cuisine of the 1700s to early 1900s.
We know that neanderthals ate a diet that consisted of 80% or more meat, while humans had a much more varied diet. We also know that neanderthals did contribute to European human DNA. A genetic affinity toward the taste of meat it certainly a reasonable thesis.
And in what parallel universe agriculture was centralized in Asia in 4000 BC ?
The big advantage of Asia was double or even triple crops.
European diets changed drastically after their discovery of the new world and the introduction of grains such as potatoes and corn from the new world to Europe. Due to the introduction of these new starches, Europeans were able to diversify away from wheat and also cultivate food exclusively for animal consumption - something that led eventually to an increase in meat consumption.
Leading to genetic differences in lactose tolerance.
Notably when previously vegetarian peasants become wealthier they tend to add meat to their diet implyinh their previous diet was involuntary vegetarianism - they wanted it but couldn't afford it.
People in the Indian sub-continent eat cilantro heavily and use in various ways. Thai food uses cilantro a lot, and I believe it is also present in Middle eastern food, though I'm not 100% sure.
I can't find any good numbers for historical demographics beyond about 100 years ago, but this sounds backwards. i.e. I think Europe would have been more dense for most of history, especially factoring in arable land.
However, I think it's a stretch to go from that (the ability to detect certain substances) to the idea that all tastes are genetically linked in a substantial way. For example the rate of ability to detect the soap flavour in cilantro is quite low (between 4-14 percent of the population based on random google searching) -- geographical variations in that ability might affect it's use in regional cuisine, but it's low enough that it might not. Most food doesn't have any similar obnoxious flavours, so I think you are correct that regional variation is more cultural than anything else. For example, the peoples of Korea and Japan are not really so different (and are even very, very close geographically), but Korean food tends to be incredibly spicy while Japanese food is decidedly not spicy.