The Delicious Legacy


The Culinary Treasures of the Byzantine Empire

Season 1, Ep. 12

The most comprehensive archaeological excavation in Istanbul’s history, took place very recently in the 21st century; a 58.000 square meter area in Yenikapi region. Here was revealed one of the biggest harbours known in the ancient world dating back to the Byzantine Era, the Theodosius Harbour. Amongst the group of findings there were 36 shipwrecks dating between 5th and 10th century which is the biggest collection of Early and Middle Byzantine Period shipwrecks. These shipwrecks are important because of their very well preserved state. Several of them had been very spectacular, with a large number of amphorae still in position when they sank in the harbour. Their discovery, brings into light fascinating clues of the life in the late ancient city (and early medieval period) and offers some direct evidence of the foods and trading goods of the Byzantine Empire.

Where do I begin with the cuisine and food of the Byzantine Empire? This is a daunting task as this was an Empire stretching 3 continents at its peak and with over 1100 years history!

The Mediterranean trilogy of wine, oil and bread meets the flavours of the Orient and in turn this mingles with the gastronomic staples of the Roman Empire thousand years before, and thus creates the unique characteristics of the Constantinople's food character that made it to a de facto gastronomic space, having created its own culinary propositions and became established as the Christian capital of wine and gastronomic delights in the medieval world.

Find out more, and everything you need to know of the Empire that would make the "Game of Thrones" books blush, with the feasts and murders and plots of their emperors and nobility here!

Ancient & Byzantine music composed and played by Pavlos Kapralos:

Traditional Cretan Music by Cretan Brioche

Music theme"Indu" in the History Hound ad by Aris Lanaridis:

More Episodes


Medieval Arab Cuisine with Professor Daniel Newman Pt1

Season 2, Ep. 12
The Islamic Golden Age...What does it come to one's mind when hears the above words?Do you think of the 'Arabian Nights' ? Or as it is properly called as 'One Thousand and One Nights'?Is your imagination also filled with other Middle Eastern Folk tales of Aladdin and Ali Baba and Sinbad the Sailor?Or, maybe, the flourishing of scientific, cultural, economic activities in the near middle east and the centre of the worlds knowledge in the largest city then in the world, Baghdad?Well so you should; these are superbly important aspects of the medieval Arab world, but for me equally important was the flourishing of an extremely delicious, complex culinary tradition, a cuisine with one foot in the Arab peninsula and the other in ancient Persia! Mouth watering rich stews and elaborate banquets, feasts for kings and caliphs that lasted weeks on end...In other words, food! Food glorious food, food that we've never heard of, food and recipes that influenced the European medieval cuisine and to this day we find echoes of them in recipes across the known world,-without exaggeration- from India to South America!For this reason I have invited on today's episode Professor Daniel Newman; an academic from Durham University specialising in Arabic literature, to talk to us about the medieval Arab cuisine. He is also known for his blog "Eat like a Sultan" where he brings the medieval recipes to our modern world with some mouth watering creations, professor Newman shares with us his unique insight of a rich and wonderful world!This was such a fun interview and I thoroughly enjoyed our chat. He is such a passionate and knowledgeable man who loves sharing his wisdom with us! If I had such lecturers when I was at University doubtless my time there would have been much, much more worthwhile!Today's music Nihavend peşrev is kindly performed by Pavlos Kapralos and it's by Petros Peloponnesios a great cantor, composer and teacher of Byzantine and Ottoman music (born c. 1735 Tripolis– died in 1778 Constantinople) the music is influenced obviously by Persian motifs and the song is played with a santur which is a hammered dulcimer of Iranian or Mesopotamian origins.Prof Daniel Newman's blog, Eat Like A Sultan: you and enjoy!Thom & The Delicious Legacy

Ancient Massalia and her foods

Season 2, Ep. 10
Today, we know this beautiful legendary city,as Marseilles.It's the 2nd largest city in France and the most ancient one. And her foundations were laid thanks to ancient Greeks!The mythical start of the city is told by Herodotus and Aristotle who give us some information and traces of truth through their stories about her establishment.But we will look into her ancient food traditions!Wine! Grapes! Olives and Herbs! The Greeks brought a lot with them when settled in Massalia around 600 BCE.The inland routes to reach northern Europe started here; the navigable rivers that led to the Atlantic, made the spot the city was built, ideal. The trade of tin and other goods was of outmost importance, and so was the necessity to avoid the conflicts with Carthaginians along the southern routes from Spain.But let's go to the food.Archestratus says:Use all anchovies for manure, exceptThe Attic fish; I mean that useful seedWhich the Ionians do call the foam;And take it fresh; just caught within the bays,The sacred bays of beautiful Phalerum.Good is it too, when by the sea-girt isleOf Rhodes you eat it, if it's not imported.And if you wish to taste it in perfection,Boil nettles with it—nettles whose green leavesOn both sides crown the stem; put these in the dishAround the fish, then fry them in one pan,And mix in fragrant herbs well steep'd in oil.How is the traditional Provençal dish "sartanado" connected with the above passage from Archestratus?What is "myttotos"? What has in common with rouille?What does a recipe found in a papyri, has to do with the famous French bouillabaisse?Which oysters the poet Ausonious things are the best?These, and a lot more are answered in the episode today!Join me and enjoy the foods of Massalia!The Delicious Legacy