Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Europe’s Oldest-Known Flavor Enhancer

Thursday, August 22, 2013

20-08-2013 spice thumbnail-500px YORK, ENGLAND—An analysis of charred residues collected from pottery fragments in Denmark and northern Germany shows that Europeans were seasoning their food at least 6,000 years ago. In particular, phytoliths from the seeds of the garlic mustard plant, which have no nutritional value, were identified in meals that also consisted of red deer or shellfish and fish. Bioarchaeologist Hayley Saul of the University of York tried cooking dishes using cod and pork—foods that would have been available to northern Europeans 6,000 years ago—spiced with garlic mustard. “They went down very well,” she said.