Reasons Affecting the Development of World Cuisine

Before starting to examine the effect on cuisine in a particular region of the world, it is necessary to look at the conditions of the world in which the changes occurred during this period. It has been seen that four basic developments have an effect on the kitchen.

1) Food storage 2) Mechanization 3) Retail (and wholesale) 4) Transport (Goody, 2013:201)

Storing Food

Salting was one of the ways food was stored. Besides salt, food could also be preserved by making pickles with vinegar, and the production of vinegar was one of the important productions of the first years of industrialization. In addition, sugar was used to preserve fruit as marmalade or jam, or to coat ham and other meats.

What is salt?

Where did it come from, what kind of process did it go through. Today it is an important component in human life and in the economy. Salt is not only for taste, but also a biological need, a substance that complements the human body.

An old proverb says that even those who don't need gold can be found, but everyone needs salt.

When we sweat, we lose some of our natural body salt. We try to fulfill this by eating. Raw meat is best for meeting salt needs, cooked meat is less salty than raw meat as it loses salt during the cooking process. Small amounts of salt are also found in grains and vegetables. Considering that most of the people living in the world are vegetarian, a good source of mineral salts has always been needed to make up for the deficiency. There are times in history where this is not possible.

In ancient times, salt was produced by three different methods. Extracting rock salt from ancient seas, boiling salt water from brine springs and evaporating seawater in shallow artificial lakes and pans. The salt from the springs-Salt Spring was very high quality than sea salt, the brine content was high. Production was not dependent on sunlight, there were no harmful Magnesium and Calcium salt mixtures found in sea water. However, the brine from the springs was expensive and the resources were not unlimited, quality fine white salt could be produced from this salt - also known as peat salt- (Figure 3).

Figure 1: Water extracted from brine sources in China is sent through a pipe to the evaporation vessel

Salt pans and salt mines have been a power used as a weapon from time to time in the hands of the country's rulers. For example: The Chinese communist administration had to evacuate some areas south of the Yangtse, which they had held for 8 years, due to the salt blockade by the Nanking government. (Tannahill, 1973:215)

Various taxes have been developed for salt from time to time throughout history, and these types of taxes have been an important source of income for both merchants and rulers in Europe as well as in Asia. An example of situations where salt played a political role is Gandhi's salt march in the 20th century; India has also been against British rule.

The purpose of the salt march was to extract salt from the sea in violation of the salt tax—Britain's salt monopoly—imposed by the East India Company in 1762. The amount of this tax amounted to £25 million a year. Before starting the march in March 1930, Gandhi wrote a letter to the British Governor-General, Lord Irwin, declaring that the law be repealed or there would be non-violent resistance. Afterwards, he called on the people to "if you feel strong enough, leave the government's business and join this march".(

The salt tax (gabelle) taken from the peasants in Europe was considered one of the reasons for the French revolt.

GabelleIt was a tax on salt in France that began in the mid-14th century and lasted until 1946, with short cuts and revisions. The term gabelle is derived from the Italian gabella. In France, the gabelle was originally an indirect tax on agricultural and industrial products such as linen, wheat, spices and wine. However, from the 14th century onwards, gabelle was limited.

Gabelle became one of the most hated taxes, as it affected all French citizens (for cooking, preserving food, making cheese and raising animals) and spreading extreme regional disparities in salt prices. Abolished by the National Assembly in 1790 in the midst of the French Revolution, the gabelle was later reinstated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806. It was briefly dissolved and reinstated during the French Second Republic, and was eventually abolished following France's liberation from Nazi Germany in 1945.(

Although the exact origin of salt is not known, it is thought to come from Egypt. It is known that salt was used in Egypt for salting the dead and preserving food. Also, the Egyptians had a trade in salted fish. The salted fish trade of the Spaniards is not unimportant either.

The Gauls were famous for their salted smoked pigs. But Christians did much more than expected in the salted fish trade, with the 40-day fasts before Easter the worst.âThere have been good times. In England, fresh fish was scarce in the interior, and salted fish consumption on Fridays was quite good in the towns all year round (Tannahill, 1973:211).

Used to store food, drying meat and vegetables, pickling, salting and preservation in some regions with ice, these were the methods used by the local people of Europe in ancient times, and there was an economy created by them.

In general, the use of salt was in two ways; The first was dry salting, in which fish or meat was buried in a salt bed, the result was quite successful, but the labor required to bring the very lumpy salt of the Middle Ages to the required fineness was too much and difficult for ordinary families to do. The use of salt in powder form was only seen in wealthy families, and a servant was housed in the noble houses whose job was only to grind the salt into powder. The second use was to make brine. The meat was immersed in a dense brine. It was very important that the meat and fish to be salted were of good quality.

At the end of the 13th century, housewives in the city had to buy fresh meat and pay extra for salt. (Tannahill, 1973:210)
With the industrial revolution, there have been differentiations in the supply, preparation, cooking, serving and consumption of food. In the western world, the amount of food for the people living and working in the city has improved a lot in terms of quality and variety. It also had significant effects in the rest of the world.

industrial revolution; It began to have an impact first on production processes for mass supply and then on consumption processes.
With the overseas voyages of the 15th century, the production of long-lasting food became of great importance; Europe needed this type of durable food in large quantities to feed army and navy personnel. Pickled fish and biscuits have been used for a long time in the Mediterranean.

In the Atlantic, pickled steaks from Ireland were eaten. Discovered at the end of the 15th century, huge cod from the continent were often brined. This colonial context led to the development of the British biscuit industry, thanks to overseas trade and hardy foods.

The biscuit industry, known since at least Shakespeare's time, arose from ship biscuits from small bakeries located around the many ports of the English kingdom. (Goody, 2013:203)

Breadcrumbs were available in two varieties, brown or white, depending on which class it was consumed by, and had been consumed since Roman times. It was originally used for bread and was considered a staple of the people along with cheese, beer and meat. During the 18th century, large-scale bakeries were established by royal officials who supplied food in the shipyards of the city of Portsmouth; Production lines were created that use the labor of each employee at the highest point. By mechanizing the production in 1833, steam-powered mechanisms were started to be built to reduce the labor cost, increase the production and improve the quality of the biscuits.

Biscuits produced in the first periods of the canned food industry; It has been aimed at meeting the needs of travelers, explorers, researchers and the military. Changing eating habits before breakfast and after dinner led to excessive increases in consumption. Biscuit industry, its production first affected the domestic market of England and then the local market abroad and eventually became a part of daily food consumption. Biscuit production has made serious progress with dough mixer, cutter, steam power applications that continuously transmit material to the burning oven.

All these inventions eventually led to the development of a secondary industry of specialist machine manufacturers for the trade, which helped ignite the industrial revolution. (Goody, 2013:203-204)

In addition, the development and expansion of food storage methods with the industrial revolution allowed non-seasonal foods to be distributed in a wider time and place.

Read: The Impact of Globalization on Food Culture


  • Goody, J., (2013). Cooking, Kitchen, Classroom. Istanbul:Detail Publications
  • Tannahill, R. (1973). Food in History. New York: Stein and Day Publisher.

About the Author

Didem Samurkas

I am a Computer Engineer, I am married, I first completed my master's degree in Sociology in order to find answers to my questions why we live social life like this, how our relations with each other are formed, and now I am continuing my Sociology doctoral program. I am doing my thesis on food and agriculture.

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