Meat! Glorious Meat!

March 9, 2017

IMG_0764.JPGAmericans have a reputation for being the most outrageously gluttonous eaters in the world. Translated that comes down to this: we eat an incredible amount of meat.

That has been a defining characteristic of American food culture since the very beginning. In Frances Milton Trollope’s cooly disdainful Domestic Manners of the Americans, first published in England in 1832, she notes,  “The American poor are accustomed to eat meat three times a day.” Which proves, mainly, how extremely unusual that was. 

As our population – and our economy – has skyrocketed, eating meat has never gone out of style. As calculated by the World Food Organization, most years the United States leads the world in per capital carcass availability.  In 2010, that was 120 kilos per person; as a comparison, India’s was a mere 5 kilos. 

But reading Cvoco Secreto di Papa Pio Quinto (Cookbook Secrets of Pope Pius V) written by Bartolomeo Scrappi in 1570, I’m reminded that the only thing new about this is that Americans do not reserve meat exclusively for the rich.  In most corners of the world, throughout history, those who could afford it have indulged in eating meat.

Take a look at this  menu for an official Papal meal with its lavish variety of fowl and game; there are 27 savory dishes and not a single one lacks meat. (A few interesting features to note.  For one, dessert was served both first and last. And for another,  beef appears only in the form of calf or veal.)

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Domestic Manners of the Americans
Francis Trollope
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