Filed under food supplies

Harsh Justice

Our ancestors had to deal with a lot of problems but a major one was ensuring safe reliable supplies of food. This is why markets were established within walking distance of all citizens. In Britain, selling underweight food -especially the staple of grain or bread – was punished with a ducking or heavy fines. The … Continue reading

Fresh Fish in Elizabeth’s London

This is an oddity on food from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. This suggests ways of supplying fresh fish when the fleet were unable to sail, especially in bad weather.  At the fishmarket, in a long street, I saw a quantity of pike up for sale; they are very fond of this, and call … Continue reading

Ensuring Fresh Meat at Markets

The guild of butchers was one of the most important, and its members among the most respected, due to their importance in ensuring safe food but also they had to heft large animal carcasses, so they were also big strong men, not the sort you would want to mess with. But it seems the lack … Continue reading

Battle of Fairs

There were many problems caused by the urbanisation of Britain; houses had to be build fast, and were often overcrowded and substandard. Before railways allowed mass movement of food, fairs and markets were crucial in ensuring food supplies, especially to the ‘great wen’ of London. Markets and fairs were conducted by licence, often of long … Continue reading

Market Fraudsters

Sale of goods in open markets was seen as a means of ensuring fair trading – the goods were in clear sight, they could be investigated, but there were many scams to cheat this system. I have read of butter being sold that had a core of lard with only a surface of butter around … Continue reading

‘The Good Life’ or Malnutrition?

Saturday’s i had an article featuring Monty Don, tv gardening presenter, who criticised the popular 1970s sitcom The Good Life, based on a suburban couple played by Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers who trie d to be self sufficient. Don claims: “No one seriously waned to know how to separate curds from whey  or render … Continue reading

Mao the Mass Murderer

Mao Tse Tung was once seen as the hero of the left in the West;  his Red Book was recently waved by an MP in Britain’s House of Commons.  But Chinese archives are now being opened, and Frank Dikoetter in the current History Today explains the great man now appears one of the great criminals. … Continue reading

Jack London on London’s Poor

The horrors of life for the poor in London are so well documented by Charles Dickens that his surname has become synonymous with them. Together with the exhortations for change by The Times, and the work of social reformers, the Salvation Army and others, I thought things would have improved. I knew that many men … Continue reading

Golan Heights Cowboys

This is an oddity from Saturday’s i paper: With his wide-brimmed hat, Wrangler jeans and ornate belt buckle, Yehiel Alon could easily pass for one of the Montana ranchers he once worked with. But the 53-year-old is an Israeli cowboy on the Golan Heights bordering war-torn Syria, where frontier-life takes on a whole new meaning. … Continue reading