Food: A Cultural Culinary History Podcast - The Great Courses

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Food: A Cultural Culinary History, Learn how the entirety of human civilization—war, trade, politics, art, religion, and more—has been shaped by our interaction with food in this delicious course.
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Food “Columbusing” and the Debate Over Cultural Appropriation

0:00 | Feb 15th

In the past few years there has been a great deal of popular and academic buzz over the notion of authenticity in cooking and who has the right to cook a particular cuisine. This is part of a larger debate over what is called cultural appropriation. ...Show More
Hunting, Gathering, and Stone Age Cooking

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In episode one of Food: A Cultural Culinary History, we're going to consider food as a catalyst in human history, and what our food choices reveal about our values and ambitions. [...]
What Early Agriculturalists Ate

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

The transition to agriculture is perhaps humanity’s single most important social revolution - and one that was not without its tradeoffs. In episode 2 of Food: A Cultural Culinary History we're going to explore the factors surrounding the rise of agr...Show More
Egypt and the Gift of the Nile

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Ancient Egypt’s prosperity, impressive court culture, and their isolation from conflict led to a sophisticated food tradition and the emergence of the world's first “elite” cuisine. [...]
Ancient Judea—From Eden to Kosher Laws

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Practices regarding food were deeply integral to the lives of the ancient Hebrews. In episode 4 we'll explore prescriptions regarding food in Biblical Genesis, and consider that the Fall of Adam and Eve itself was an act of eating. [...]
Classical Greece—Wine, Olive Oil, and Trade

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this episode, we’ll discover how the ancient Greeks’ need for arable land led to their imperial and mercantile system, and we’ll consider what we learn about their food culture from such sources as Homer, Hesiod, Pythagoras, and Plato. [...]
The Alexandrian Exchange and the Four Humors

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Alexander the Great's conquests heralded an era where previously unconnected cultures mixed on a large scale. In this podcast, we’ll trace the diffusion of foodstuffs over vast trade networks in the Hellenistic period. [...]
Ancient India—Sacred Cows and Ayurveda

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this episode, we’re going to learn about the culture of the Aryans, whose religion prefigured Hinduism; we’ll discuss food customs relating to India’s caste system; and we’ll even touch upon the traditions of vegetarianism in Hinduism, Jainism, an...Show More
Yin and Yang of Classical Chinese Cuisine

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Chinese culture has produced what is arguably the most complex, sophisticated, and varied culinary tradition on earth. In this podcast we’re going to trace the rise of civilization in China from the Hsia to the Han dynasty. [...]
Dining in Republican and Imperial Rome

0:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this episode we’re going to Ancient Rome, where we’ll delve into some intriguing contrasts in the dining habits of the ancient Romans. We’ll examine the simple food customs of republican Rome, and then trace the expanding empire and learn how exot...Show More
Early Christianity—Food Rituals and Asceticism

33:26 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today’s podcast we’re going to observe the role of food in Jesus’s parables and miracles, as well as in the ritual of the Eucharist.
Europe’s Dark Ages and Charlemagne

32:41 | Oct 2nd, 2017

The fall of Rome and the rise of Germanic tribal kingdoms brought significant culinary changes to Europe. In this podcast episode we’re going to examine the “barbarian” diet and the culture of “fast and feast” which emerged from the opposing ideals o...Show More
Islam—A Thousand and One Nights of Cooking

31:52 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this podcast we’re going to examine the Islamic take on food and cooking. We’ll contemplate the Muslim cultural values that permitted pleasure and the cultivation of the senses, and we’ll look at their creation of an exquisite cuisine.
Carnival in the High Middle Ages

35:04 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today’s podcast, we’re going to learn about great innovations in medieval European cooking. We’ll see how contact with Islamic civilization during the crusades and the Reconquista, changed European cooking forever.
International Gothic Cuisine

33:46 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Ironically, the horrific bubonic plagues in 14th-century Europe produced societal shifts that led to a resplendent era in food. In today’s podcast we’re going to look at the influence of three seminal Gothic era cookbooks and the craze for spices and...Show More
A Renaissance in the Kitchen

33:39 | Oct 2nd, 2017

The Italian Renaissance brought a new aesthetic approach to cookery, featuring great complexity of presentation. In this podcast we’re going to uncover some of the era’s extremes in books by Renaissance food writers.
Aztecs and the Roots of Mexican Cooking

33:00 | Oct 2nd, 2017

At the exact same time as the European Renaissance, the Aztec culture produced a unique food tradition that survives to this very day in Mexican cuisine. In this podcast, we’re going to learn about Aztec society, its indigenous foodstuffs, and it’s v...Show More
1492—Globalization and Fusion Cuisines

33:43 | Oct 2nd, 2017

It was actually humanity’s desire for spices and other luxury items that eventually connected the entire globe. In this episode we’re going to investigate the powerful trading empires of the Venetians and Portuguese that secured stable routes to the ...Show More
16th-Century Manners and Reformation Diets

33:02 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today’s podcast we’re going to examine a fascinating new dynamic in culture that swept across Europe in the 1500s. We’ll see the emergence of cutlery, elaborate tableware, ritualized behavior at the table.
Papal Rome and the Spanish Golden Age

31:39 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this podcast we’re going to explore the rise of regional and national cuisines in Europe, focusing on Italy and Spain. We’ll read the culinary writings of Bartolomeo Scappi – a brilliant Italian chef who brought together specialty dishes from all ...Show More
The Birth of French Haute Cuisine

32:53 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In the mid-17th century, France assumed a preeminent position in the art of cooking. In today’s podcast we’re going to explore the aesthetics of the newly emerging French Haute cuisine, It’s a way of cooking that is based in subtlety, refinement, and...Show More
Elizabethan England, Puritans, Country Food

33:18 | Oct 2nd, 2017

English cookery’s unflattering reputation really conceals a rich and varied culinary past. In today’s podcast we’re going to look at the religious and political factors that ended up producing multiple different versions of English gastronomy.
Dutch Treat—Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Tobacco

34:10 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's podcast, we'll follow the conquests of the Dutch, the British, and the French, and we'll discuss how the trade in a group of entirely superfluous, edible, luxury items changed the focus of the global economy and the global cuisine.
African and Aboriginal Cuisines

34:29 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this episode we're going to learn about the distinctive African foodways. These are food ecosystems that predated extensive outside contact. They encompass traditions such as rich stews and “fufu” which is a starch-based porridge.
Edo, Japan—Samurai Dining and Zen Aesthetics

35:56 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's podast, we're travelling all the way to the islands of Japan, where we will contemplate how traditional Japanese reverence for nature is reflected in their respect for the natural flavors of food.
Colonial Cookery in North America

35:14 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's podcast we're going to contrast the culinary fashions of colonial Virginia which were modeled on the English gentry, with the mercantile, Puritan ethic of New England.
Eating in the Early Industrial Revolution

34:35 | Oct 2nd, 2017

The Industrial Revolution brought far-reaching changes in food production and culture. In this episode, we'll travel to the British Isles and observe how the advent of industrially organized farming, urban labor, and mass production led to the artifi...Show More
Romantics, Vegetarians, Utopians

33:02 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In the 19th century, food-conscious social movements reacted against the many ills of industrial society. In today's podcast. we're going to delve into new dietary ideologies that stressed purity and were backed by both quasi-scientific and religious...Show More
First Restaurants, Chefs, and Gastronomy

33:37 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's podcast we're going to learn about the West’s first true restaurants in 18th-century Paris.
Big Business and the Homogenization of Food

33:41 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's episode we're going into the underbelly of food production. We'll investigate the process by which late 19th-century food production became a vast industry. And we'll see how technological developments such as freezing, canning, and pasteu...Show More
Food Imperialism around the World

33:41 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European colonialism expanded across the entire globe as a form of economic empire building, with food production as a primary form of wealth creation.
Immigrant Cuisines and Ethnic Restaurants

33:25 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today's podcast we’re going to explore the significant ways in which American eating habits have been shaped by immigrants.
War, Nutritionism, and the Great Depression

33:57 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In this podcast we’re going to examine a pivotal shift in food consumption that took place in the early 20th century. First, World War I is going to change, forever, the way civilians eat.
World War II and the Advent of Fast Food

32:44 | Oct 2nd, 2017

During WWII, a whole host of new food technologies were developed to aid the war effort. In this podcast we’re going to explore how these technologies became the template for American eating in the postwar era.
Counterculture—From Hippies to Foodies

34:34 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today’s podcast we’re going to explore the backlash against processed food in the late 20th century.
Science of New Dishes and New Organisms

35:18 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In today’s podcast we’re going to witness the melding of science and fine dining in the ingenious creations of “modernist” cuisine.
The Past as Prologue?

33:33 | Oct 2nd, 2017

In our final podcast for this series, we’ll conclude with Professor Albala’s intriguing predictions on the future of our food culture.