Prompts: Darwinian Gastronomy


"Any world traveler can attest to the pungent truth: Spicy meals tend to be found
in warmer climates, while blander foods correlate to colder places. For years,
people believed spices were used in the countries where they were grown to mask
the taste of spoiled meat or solely for the flavor they add to food.

Alas, nothing in nature turns out to be that simple. Researchers now
suggest that a taste for spices served a vital evolutionary purpose: keeping our
ancestors alive. Spices, it turns out, can kill poisonous bacteria and fungi
that may contaminate our food. In other words, developing a taste for these
spices could be good for our health. And since food spoils more quickly in
hotter weather, it’s only natural that warmer climates have more
bacteria-killing spices.

Indeed, the very plants that produce spices use
them in this way. Spices that come from shrubs, vines, trees, and the roots,
flowers, and seeds of plants protect the vegetation against the same bacteria
and fungi that attack our food when we’ve left it overnight on the kitchen
counter. Before refrigeration, food spoilage was an even more pressing problem,
which is why some researchers say spices played such a huge role in history —
one Gothic leader in A.D. 408 demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as ransom. And
adventurers from Marco Polo to Christopher Columbus sailed the world mapping
routes to spice-growing countries."

Darwinian Gastronomy

2 thoughts on “Prompts: Darwinian Gastronomy

  1. Except…in many tropical places [e.g., Cuba, Central America, etc.] the food’s not highly spiced.

  2. Hello,

    I’m a french guy who would like to study what we call ” darwinian gastronomy”.
    And so, i’m looking for books to study it. If you can halp me to found it, you are welcome.

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