By Lorna Piatti-Farnell
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Extra info for Beef: A Global History
Cold weather was required to keep the beef fresh, and the fact that the Mediterranean region was hot almost year-round meant that it did not prove fitting for the task of beef preservation. So, naturally, the Romans opted for other meats – pork, known as sus or porcus, was the most popular among the plebeian population, while the Roman patricians often opted for extravagant, luxurious and highly prized meats such as ostrich and peacock. All the same, one should not think that the Romans did not eat beef at all.
In his book, Kitchiner describes in detail how to prepare a ‘noble sirloin of about fifteen pounds’, taking special care in recommending that it should be placed by the cook on an open fire at least four hours before going to church on Sundays. Kitchiner’s instructions state that the meat had to cook slowly on racks, hooks or on small spits, and the large quantities of beef prepared would feed the household not only as a hot roast on the Sunday itself, but also in the guise of stews, pie fillings and cold cuts for the rest of the week.
A notable example concerns precisely the French, who have been known to refer to the British derogatively as rosbif, openly mocking the overactive preference for simple and straightforward roasted beef in the British Isles. In 1817, William Kitchiner – author of the well-respected Apicius Redivivus; Or, The Cook’s Oracle – recommended his readers to eat as much as 3 kg (6½ lb) of meat every week, in order to ensure good health. Beef was clearly selected as the most beneficial meat of choice. In his book, Kitchiner describes in detail how to prepare a ‘noble sirloin of about fifteen pounds’, taking special care in recommending that it should be placed by the cook on an open fire at least four hours before going to church on Sundays.
Beef: A Global History by Lorna Piatti-Farnell