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


Pork as medicine in the ancient and medieval world

Season 1, Ep. 30
I've been eternally fascinated with ancient medicine and all the different remedies and potions that medicinal writes were advising to cure all sorts of maladies! But one "cure" -literally- salted, cured, ham and bacon it was really above all others! Tarikhos -aka salted meat- and any other pork cut was considered light and and nutritious meat.I wanted to find out how it was used and why!The theory of maintaining or regaining one’s health through a lifestyle of moderation and balance was called “dietetics.” More than in our days, diet played a role in preventing and curing diseases, and in fact it was one of the main areas of study at medieval medical schools. Not surprisingly, foodstuffs and dishes were seen in much the same way as simple and compound drugs, and like them were classified in accordance with the theory of the four humors, by which was meant a theory of the four bodily fluids. To find out the history of this early scientific theory we must go back to the sixth century B.C., to such Greek philosophers as Anaximenes, Heraclitus, and Thales.It was Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, and his followers who around 400 B.C. added to the four qualities of Zeno the four bodily fluids blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, and formulated a prototype of what came to be known as “humoral theory.”One of the few remnants of humoral theory that has survived into the twenty-first century; when we describe a person’s temperament today as sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic, we are, in effect, referring to their dominant bodily fluid or humor: blood (sanguis), yellow bile (cholé), black bile (melaina cholé), and phlegm. The Greek physician who was the most prolific medical writer and who influenced medieval medicine more than any other was Galen of Pergamon of the second century A.D. In selecting and harmonizing elements of the humoral theory he found in Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and others, he created a system that was capable of describing the world as a whole, and all inanimate and animate objects in it. By Byzantine times, the theory of humours was accepted without question by doctors and court alike and even amongst more common people. Foods had to be judged and balanced for their effects on the bodily humours, month by month, hour by hour, and according to individual constitution.Ancient medicals writers, physicians and philosophers mentioned on this podcast:Oribasius: of Amida: of Tralles: Of Aegina: thanks to Pavlos Kapralos for the music! You can find more of Pavlos's work on his YouTube channel: for listening!The Delicious Legacy

Decoding the Forme Of Cury - An Interview with Dr Christopher Monk

Season 1, Ep. 28
Did you know that you could use cinnamon buds as spice in food? Well I didn't either before my interview with Dr Christopher Monk!Is Forme of Cury the oldest complete collection of recipes from England?This book was originally commissioned by Richard II and compiled by his master cooks, with theassent of his physicians and philosophers at court, and it was designed to have194 recipes. The book dates from late 14th century originally, and is a fascinating document of the medieval period and the cooking habits not only of the King and his palace, but generally of the medieval period.As with everything so old, that has been saved by the ravages of time, we luckily have several versions of it, some dating from the reign of Richard II, some are later, some are incomplete, we have folios, rolls, manuscripts etc...! And then, on top, modern scholars tend to muddle things with compiling all these versions into one without much context for us mere mortals to understand what's happening!Anyway enjoy the lovely Dr Monk taking us to a journey through Medieval England, with his food adventures, including mince meats, and mince mint! (say that loudly quickly!)Find out more medieval recipes on Dr Monks YouTube channel here: always many thanks for Pavlos Kapralos for his composition, "Marmaras" which I kindly use for my theme this time!More about this talented man: & Greek link, for your 15% off of your next purchase, please go here: thanks and Happy listening!The Delicious Legacy