It is never too cold for ice cream: Italian food in Scotland

When groups of people leave their home and move to other countries or even just regions within the same country they take with them their culinary habits. Familiar food is comforting and offers “a home far from home”. Movement of people also opens the door to new products. We would not have Italian food without the introduction of the tomato, originally from Southern and Central America in Western Europe by the Spanish in the sixteenth century.

Recipe or Remedy: A Spoonful of Sugar

In the Middle Ages intentional food deprivation was associated with religious fasting, in more extreme cases known as holy anorexia or ‘great starvation’. This practice was most commonly adopted by women, known as ‘fasting girls’ and was seen as imitating the suffering of Jesus.

Abstinence and temperance were central elements of early Christian theology. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote ‘Let us not give our minds to delights but to what is the end of delights. Here on earth it is excrement and obesity, hereafter it is fire and the worm’.

Recipe or Remedy: Getting it Out of Your System

The origins of evacuatory medicine lie with the humoural system. When a person’s humours became imbalanced this needed to be corrected by removing the ‘bad humours’ from their body. Sometimes this was done through bloodletting, but more often through ingesting emetics for vomiting, diuretics or laxatives.

Sweating and blistering the skin were also thought to help remove toxins from the body. ‘Heroic medicine’, popular in the 1700s and 1800s, was based on the idea that the more you evacuated, and the closer to death you came, the more successful the treatment must be.

Recipe or Remedy: An Apple a Day

From Ancient Greece to the 1800s much of medical practice was based around humoural theory. According to this idea, there were four humours, or fluids, in the body which needed to be kept in balance. These were black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm. The balance of these humours was tied to a person’s diet, their age and their gender.