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Food History - Dining

Eating is pictured in so many ways -- from using only hands and teeth to holding spoons and wine-glasses. Images of family meals show the importance of sharing time together with food. Upperclass dining-room images display the grandeur of medieval nobility or more modern high-society dinner parties where displaying good manners were as important as enjoying the meal.

From Vikings to modern times, feasts have celebrated special occasions. Ancient Roman banquets featured entertainment as well as food and drink. The ancient Greek symposium originated as a forum for drinking and discussing philosophy at the same time. Thanksgiving dinner is an American feast, a celebration of vintage food based upon native plants and animals eaten by Native Americans and early colonists.

Pictures of holiday food show as much merriment as cuisine, enhanced by music and tradition, such as Christmas dinner or Passover meals. Picnic and barbecue images show people having fun eating food outdoors. Outdoor dining that is not for fun includes army camp meals, and campfire meals of pioneers on one of the great wagon routes such as the Oregon Trail. Other special situations are meals on a ship or train, cowboy chuck wagons while on a cattle drive, and ritual celebration food such as a religious occasion or a wedding.

The history of wine begins in ancient times, and pictures of alcoholic beverages include people drinking beer or ale as well as people making moonshine or cider. Coffee and tea are also served in a social setting, such as a coffeehouse where ideas were debated. Hot chocolate, another sociable drink, has been a favorite of children as well as adults.

No pictures of dining would be complete without Parisian cafes and other restaurant meals, in historical times usually in a tavern or inn. Another way to dine without spending a lot of time cooking is to use packaged processed foods, developed in the late 1800s.


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