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Ancient Flavors

Archeologists are fascinated by the ancient foods they unearth around the world. From wine bottles discovered in tombs, to bones in small vessels, most likely flavoring soup, to bits of charcoal that turned out to be burnt bread from the European migration to Britain some 5,500 years ago. We’ve even heard about the 3,000 year old butter discovered in Ireland, albeit a little less creamy than its current counterpart. The oldest noodle (4,000 years old!) was found, not in Italy, but in the Lajia archeological site on the Yellow River in China. 

Did you know that the cheese that was prepared by Cyclope Polyfimos and described in the 8th B.C. century in Homer’s “Odyssey” is considered to be the ancestor of Feta? And that the actual word “feta” means, “slice” in Greek? The oldest olive tree is located on the Greek island of Crete. Seven of these ancient trees are still believed to be at least 2,000 to 3,000 years old. The Olive Tree of Vouves (named after Anos Vouves, the village is stands in) still produces highly prized olives.

Spices have infused the world for thousands of years. In 1555 B.C., the Egyptians heralded the health benefits of coriander, fennel, juniper, cumin, garlic and thyme. In the 3rd century B.C., Chinese courtiers savored cloves in their mouths, assuring fresh breath when addressing their Emperor. By the 6th century B.C., pungent roots such as onions, garlic, and shallots gained popularity in Persia. Essential oils were created from coriander, and saffron. The Romans introduced spice-flavored wine, balms and oils. The health benefits of spices were proven in the use of poultices and healing plasters. The primary source of herbs was medicinal, right up to the time of spice introduction to America via the Mayflower, followed by the flourishing pepper trade rooted in Salem, Massachusetts. Today, spices and herbs are found in culinary preparations, coupled with an increased interest in using spices and herbs for health benefits. 

Perhaps, F.H. Gillingham & Sons’ 130-year history pales in comparison to the history of the ancient flavors mentioned in this blog. Our diverse team, with its ancestral beginnings rooted in the British Isles, South Africa, South America, the Mediterranean,  Middle East, Native American, and then some, enjoys “talking food” with you. We are constantly exploring flavors, ancient and new, from across the ocean or from our Vermont backyards. Walk our aisles and discover new ways to expand your culinary palates. Savor the tang of a Kalamata olive. Dare to enjoy the saltiness of a fine Italian anchovy. Toast in a skillet some coriander seeds and release their citrus and sage top notes. Stop by and peruse our cheese area, especially for holiday entertaining. We’ll be close by and ready to tempt you with pairings and exciting flavor combinations, because it’s what we love to do.

F.H. Gillingham & Sons is located at 16 Elm Street in Woodstock, Vermont. This year, we are celebrating our 130th anniversary. Stop by for a truly unbelievable Vermont general store experience.

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