8 Delicacies Only Poor People Once Eaten

1. Sushi and rolls

Image: Derek Duran / Unsplash

Now sushi (or, more correctly, sushi) is an extremely fashionable food that literally everyone consumes. But in ancient times, when Japan was still a country not of anime and PlayStation, but of harsh samurai and frostbitten daimyo, it was the food of the poor.

The fact is that at that time refrigerators had not yet been delivered to the islands, and in order to save the fish, one had to somehow get out. Therefore, the peasants put it in wooden tubs with rice vinegar, salt and rice, where it fermented under a huge stone. This made it possible to store the catch for several months, or even a year in advance.

Rice, by the way, was not eaten, but thrown away. Because he was, to put it mildly, unappetizing.

Naturally, only very hungry people would eat such fish, because it smelled just awful . But hunger is not an aunt, you know.

Sushi (then called “nare-zushi”) was the food of poor fishermen who could not afford fresh meat, since most of the catch was given to the venerable daimyo.

The Japanese thought of eating fish with rice only in the 13th century, when they decided to reduce the storage time of seafood in a barrel from a year to three or four weeks. Then the grains acquired a curious sour taste, but did not have time to deteriorate.

Modern sushi and rolls are an invention of the 20th century, made possible thanks to the refrigerator. Raw fish is no longer fermented, but salted and served with fresh rice.

2. Caviar

Image: Olga Pukhalskaya / Unsplash

Caviar, especially black caviar, is now considered the food of the rich. But it was not always so. In the 19th century in the United States, for example, so many sturgeons were harvested that caviar was served in saloons for free – like peanuts are now in some sports bars. Establishment owners believed that grainy consumption encouraged patrons to order more alcoholic beverages.

In addition, caviar was added to various cheap cereals to increase their nutritional value.

And only when too intensive sturgeon fishing led to a significant decrease in their population, the product turned from a snack for everyone into a delicacy of respectable gentlemen.

In Russia , by the way, the fashion for eating black caviar among the nobility appeared much earlier than in Europe and America. This product has been purposefully mined since at least the 12th century. But for centuries, caviar was considered cheap food for peasants and farm laborers and was eaten with porridge in large bowls.

But when Tsar Ivan the Terrible tried grainy, the prestige of the dish increased dramatically. Rich guys began to buy caviar in order to eat it themselves and sell it to Europe, in particular, to Italy. But ordinary fishermen have since had to be content with porridge without additives.

3. Oysters

Image: Edoardo Cuoghi / Unsplash

Eating an oyster is not a trivial task for an unprepared person. First of all, the mollusk must be torn off from the stone on which it is located in its natural habitat. Then open the shells of the sink without cutting off your fingers. And finally, suppressing the gag reflex, swallow the contents.

Now oysters are served in ice in expensive restaurants. But before they were food for the poor – it just didn’t occur to the rich that you could eat such disgusting things.

So, in the 17th century, the streets of New York were literally littered with oyster shells, which were eaten on the go by low-class passers-by. For this reason, one of the streets in Manhattan is still called Pearl Street .

Oysters were eaten raw, cooked deep-fried, in butter, in wine. And for many poor people, this was the only source of protein, because they could not afford meat. Charles Dickens, for example, wrote in the Pickwick Papers: “Poverty and oysters always seem to go hand in hand.”

But by the 20th century, these mollusks were safely eaten on the coast of North America and they became very rare and expensive. And because of the increased price, the rich became interested in oysters, reasoning: if the product is expensive , then it is tasty and worth it.

4 Lobsters

Image: David Todd McCarty/Unsplash

With lobsters, or lobsters, the story is the same as with oysters. When the British colonists arrived in the New World in the 17th century, they found so many of these crustaceans on the shores of their new homeland that there was literally nowhere to put them.

Lobsters were squeamishly called sea insects and cockroaches and were used to fertilize fields or as bait for fish, as well as fed to the poor, servants and prisoners.

There is evidence that in the city of Massachusetts, convicts even sued the authorities, demanding that they be fed lobster no more than twice a week.

For a long time, crustaceans were considered food for the mob. But in the 1880s, lobsters began to run out, and their prices immediately rose, which led to an improvement in the reputation of the dish. And by the beginning of World War II, lobsters were considered a delicacy.

5. Acne

Image: David Clode / Unsplash

Now eels are not the most frequent guests on the table. But in medieval England it was one of the staple foods of the poor . It is estimated that people ate more eels than all other freshwater and saltwater fish. It was cheap food that was easy to get.

Eel pie, as well as jellied and stuffed eel have gained particular popularity.

These fish were so common in England that they even paid landlords. It is known , for example, that by the end of the 11th century, 540,000 eels were used annually as currency. Their trade was an important part of the economy until the 16th century.

Then, however, almost all eels were caught , they became rare and expensive and lost their former significance. Only with the popularization of sushi in the 20th century did eels return to the table – but now they are much less cheap and common than in the good old Middle Ages .

6. Polenta

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Polenta is an Italian cornmeal porridge. It looks like a Moldavian or Romanian hominy. Until the 16th century, when corn had not yet been brought to Europe from America, polenta was made from barley, wheat, spelled two-grain, millet, chickpeas, chestnuts, and in general everything that can be ground into flour.

Since ancient times, this porridge has often been the only source of food for Italian peasants.

But now, through the efforts of such famous chefs as Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver , it has become an extremely fashionable dish for people who understand fine cuisine. And now polenta is served in restaurants as a side dish for gourmet dishes. Although in fact it’s just porridge.

7. Paella

Image: Sandra Wei / Unsplash

Paella is a Spanish rice dish with saffron, olive oil, seafood and chicken. It is now a fashionable delicacy served in restaurants, but in 10th-century Valencia, the original paella was prepared by poor peasants and farmers.

The ingredients were selected according to the principle “throw everything you find into the pan”: tomatoes, onions, snails, rabbit and duck meat were added to the rice. The chicken got there less often, because it was considered a bird for wealthy hidalgos.

Also, a water vole or a frog could easily go to paella.

Beans, beans, artichoke, rosemary, paprika, saffron, garlic, salt, olive oil and water were added to taste. All this was stewed on fire, and something vaguely similar to pilaf was obtained. If the village had access to the sea, then fish and seafood were also sent to the pan, and the shells were usually not removed.

Naturally, today no one would eat paella with snails and mice. Therefore, when the dish went beyond Spain in the 20th century, such delights were abandoned, leaving only seafood.

8. Blue cheeses

Image: Jez Timms/Unsplash

They are blue cheeses . There is a legend that one of the first such options, Roquefort, appeared in southern France. It happened like this: a certain shepherd boy, seeing a beautiful girl, ran after her, forgetting about his breakfast. And when he returned a few months later, he found that the cheese had become moldy and acquired an unusual taste.

In fact, this product was eaten in ancient Rome, and even earlier. Even the feces of the inhabitants of Bronze Age Austria were found, who already then ate moldy cheese, washed down with beer.

They did this not because of some stunning taste of the product. Just when there is nothing else, then you can eat cheese covered with sour-milk mold for a sweet soul.

And finally, an interesting fact: the taste and aroma of blue cheeses is given by bacteria of the species Brevibacterium linens – the very ones that make unwashed human feet smell bad . Something like this.

Read also 🧐

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.