Food: A Cultural Culinary History Podcast - The Great Courses
Summary: 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.
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.
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 agriculture, how plants and animals were domesticated, and why agriculture directly led to civilization as we know it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, and Buddhism.
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.
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 exotic food became a status symbol.
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.
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 of Christian asceticism, German meat-eating virility, and classical moderation.
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.
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.
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 sugar in the flourishing of “Gothic” cuisine.
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.