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Thread: How did oaks repopulate Europe?

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    How did oaks repopulate Europe?



    In my post about oaks I talked about the oak tree and how useful this tree was and still is to people. In this post I would like to explain why I believe that people were as useful to the oak trees as the oak trees were useful to people. I believe that the influence that people had on the distribution of oaks in Europe could have been far greater then it is currently accepted. I think that the northward spreading of oaks from their glacial refugiums after the last ice age was actually the result of the northward spreading of humans from the same refugiums. I believe that it was humans who brought the oaks to the north of Europe. Let me explain why I believe that that was the case.


    You can read more about this here:


    http://oldeuropeanculture.blogspot.i...te-europe.html

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    do you know how HG made acorns edible?
    I've read once they burried them in a clay-lined pit
    the clay lining was to prevent rodents to get to the acorns

    I don't know whether this is true

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    do you know how HG made acorns edible?
    I've read once they burried them in a clay-lined pit
    the clay lining was to prevent rodents to get to the acorns

    I don't know whether this is true
    Have a read at this, bicicleur. Scroll down, there is a bit regarding acorns and a video on how to get rid of tannins.

    EDIT: Apologies bicicleur but I had to delete the link, just noticed few things in it that were somewhat odd. Pity about that because there was a pretty good write up attached..
    As a small substitute here is a video showing one way that HGs may well have used to prepare acorns. Go to about four minutes in..:)
    Last edited by hope; 16-11-14 at 19:19.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    Have a read at this, bicicleur. Scroll down, there is a bit regarding acorns and a video on how to get rid of tannins.

    EDIT: Apologies bicicleur but I had to delete the link, just noticed few things in it that were somewhat odd. Pity about that because there was a pretty good write up attached..
    As a small substitute here is a video showing one way that H/G may well have used to prepare acorns. Go to about four minutes in..:)
    thx Hope,

    interesting

    it made me think of the following :

    22000 till 14000 years ago people in the Nile Valley processed and ate the roots of this grass, which grew in abundance then :

    Cyperus_rotundus_tuber01.jpg

    the processing of these roots was similar to the processing of the acorns

    after 14000 years ago, the Nile Valley changed because of a climate change (monsoon winds shifting northward)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    thx Hope,

    interesting

    it made me think of the following :

    22000 till 14000 years ago people in the Nile Valley processed and ate the roots of this grass, which grew in abundance then :

    Cyperus_rotundus_tuber01.jpg

    the processing of these roots was similar to the processing of the acorns

    after 14000 years ago, the Nile Valley changed because of a climate change (monsoon winds shifting northward)
    Is that nut grass, bicicleur? I think it has another name but I can`t think of it.

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    Removing the tannins isn't really a big deal if you have sufficient water.

    One of my old Italian cookbooks has some recipes that incorporate them. You score the skin, then roast them (the same method is used with chestnuts) in the oven, or in an open fire. Then you peel them and place them in cold water, bring them to a boil, and let them boil for fifteen minutes. The water and the acorns turn dark. You drain them and put them to boil in fresh water for another fifteen minutes and drain They're then less bitter.

    Or, you can cut them up, (If you're in the stone age, I suppose you could just smash them with a stone), and then just soak them in a container full of water for a couple of days, changing the water a couple of times a day. It's the same method that is used to re-hydrate and de-salinate air dried or salted cod (stoccafisso and baccala) or things like salted anchovies and sardines.

    A cousin of mine owns a farm where they still have an area where a part of a stream was diverted, and guided downslope, and then it finally flows into and out of a stone trough. It makes it easier because you don't have to change the water.

    It looks something like this, only without the stone wall...
    http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/p...l/14202014.jpg

    Whatever method you use you can then dry them, and when dry grind them for flour.

    All incredibly labor intensive, of course, but needs must.


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    From all we can gather, acorns were the last result for food choice, only during starvation I suppose.

    If they had any hallucinogenic qualities oak would become the true holly tree very quickly, lol. The hardwood of oak is superior for making many durable tools, and the majestic crown envoces beauty and respect in people, and makes it a great landmark.

    I doubt people are behind planting oak trees, well not on purpose. The climatic change for warmer and wetter, after Ace Age, would be enough for them to spread north on their own in one or two thousand years. However if people consumed them, though rarely, they surely could help spreading them faster around vast areas, by accidental seeding.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Angela, a lot less labor intensive than wheat agriculture...with a lot bigger yields than wheat agriculture..I will write about ancient acorn processing in my next post. And about cultivation versus agriculture in one of my next posts. But the question that is raging among the anthropologists at the moment isn't why would anyone eat acorns, but why would anyone abandon acorns for wheat...

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    LeBrok

    You say:

    From all we can gather, acorns were the last result for food choice, only during starvation I suppose.
    That is actually not true. Acorns were originally the main starch staple and only later, in the late Bronze age, became the second choice after the grains...Everything is pointing to that.

    You also say:

    I doubt people are behind planting oak trees, well not on purpose.
    People plant trees on purpose all the time. Every orchard is a bunch of purposely planted trees. If acorns were considered staple food then planting them would be the same as planting apples. But oaks were not the only "first" European trees that were probably planted by people. Have a read at my article again and have a look at the list of trees and plants which first colonized Europe after the Younger Dryas. They were all edible and most had nuts and cones which can not be quickly dispersed by wind or animals. Do you think this is a coincidence?

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    [QUOTE=oldeuropeanculture;444238]Angela, a lot less labor intensive than wheat agriculture...with a lot bigger yields than wheat agriculture..I will write about ancient acorn processing in my next post. And about cultivation versus agriculture in one of my next posts. But the question that is raging among the anthropologists at the moment isn't why would anyone eat acorns, but why would anyone abandon acorns for wheat...[/QUOTE

    All I can tell you is that they are seen as the food of last resort. To eat them is to announce to the world that you are destitute. Part of that may be due to fashion, in a way. I read relatively recently that the spices which were so valued in the Middle Ages really weren't precious solely for their ability to preserve food, but at least as much because as an exotic, expensive food they gave you status. However, part of it with acorns is definitely because they are bitter.

    How do chestnuts compare as a food source? They are infinitely preferred to acorns because they don't need to be leached to get rid of any tannins. All you have to do is score, roast, and then peel. You can eat them as is, make a pudding with milk, a mash, cereal, or, just let them dry and then grind for use as bread flour. Much less labor intensive than acorns. Oh, you can dry and then store them for the winter. We call them gussoni. All you need to do to reconstitute them is soak them in water, or, what I really used to like, is boil them in milk and then add a little honey.
    http://ricette.donnamoderna.com/var/...er_grande3.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldeuropeanculture View Post
    That is actually not true. Acorns were originally the main starch staple and only later, in the late Bronze age, became the second choice after the grains...Everything is pointing to that.
    If it was true, that acorns were the main staple of our ancestor's diet, we (as Europeans) would have developed a taste for them. The way we developed taste for mushrooms, many veggies and fruit, meat, wheat from chicken, pork, beef and starch from various grains. We don't have taste for acorns, therefore they didn't seem even close to being a main staple of hunter gatherer diet. I'm sure after few thousand years of eating acorns, as a main staple, we would have developed anti tannins genes, and even loved eating them, the way pigs or squirrels do. It is the same adaptation process which happened in us, to let us drink milk as adults, or enjoy and digest yogurts and cheeses, and is behind our love of eating fresh baked bread, good stake, broth with cooked fats. Our affinity to certain foods points to the way of life of our ancestors.
    Acorns, not that much, we don't even make jams or pickles out of them. And for that reason I can definitely say that they were never a main staple in HGs diet.


    People plant trees on purpose all the time. Every orchard is a bunch of purposely planted trees.
    Can you show me any example of existing hunter gatherers planting trees? And not only sporadic trees. One would need to plant a forest with them to have steady supply of acorns, good enough quantity for the whole village main staple diet. Forrest would need to mature from seedlings too, and it takes about 50 years for oaks to mature, to give ample supply. That's twice the lifespan of average hunter gatherer! I don't think they had planned so much in advance, and were so patient. Especially if they used their time to hunt and find food in already rich forests of Europe.
    Why the heck waste time planting and eating something that doesn't taste good and is poisonous, and to make it adable is labour and water intensive? It doesn't make sense unless one is starving and need to eat anything to survive.

    If acorns were considered staple food then planting them would be the same as planting apples.
    Can you give us example of HGs planting apples?

    But oaks were not the only "first" European trees that were probably planted by people. Have a read at my article again and have a look at the list of trees and plants which first colonized Europe after the Younger Dryas. They were all edible and most had nuts and cones which can not be quickly dispersed by wind or animals. Do you think this is a coincidence?
    Damn, they were not HGs, they were real farmers then. They planted and harvested through all Europe.
    I think your concentration is very subjective and selective, and goes against discoveries in archeology. It is more "holistic" than anything.

    And I agree with Angela, chestnuts are much better candidate for people to plant and use as food. If people didn't plant them for food, there is much chance they planted oaks for this purpose.
    PS. I tried pickled chestnuts once. I liked the taste of them, the sweet with pleasant aroma, but I found the texture difficult to swallow.

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    The archeology texts I've read, which were primarily about Britain, mention hazel nuts as an important food for humans during the Paleolithic, but I had the impression that acorns really only became important once people started farming and keeping pigs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    Is that nut grass, bicicleur? I think it has another name but I can`t think of it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyperus_rotundus

    some similar species grew in the Nile Valey
    it is a weed which is today considered a plague in irrigated fields because if you can't remove the whole root, it keeps coming back
    so for the inhabitants of the Nile Valley it was an abundant food source that came back every year
    another food source was catfish : there was little rainfall, the Nile was a river only in summertime, after the summer floodings it changed into many ponds full of fish easy to catch
    the Nile Valley became overpopulated with frequent tribal wars
    after the climate shift, 14000 years ago, the Nile became depopulated for several 1000's of years

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    [QUOTE=Angela;444242]
    Quote Originally Posted by oldeuropeanculture View Post
    Angela, a lot less labor intensive than wheat agriculture...with a lot bigger yields than wheat agriculture..I will write about ancient acorn processing in my next post. And about cultivation versus agriculture in one of my next posts. But the question that is raging among the anthropologists at the moment isn't why would anyone eat acorns, but why would anyone abandon acorns for wheat...[/QUOTE

    All I can tell you is that they are seen as the food of last resort. To eat them is to announce to the world that you are destitute. Part of that may be due to fashion, in a way. I read relatively recently that the spices which were so valued in the Middle Ages really weren't precious solely for their ability to preserve food, but at least as much because as an exotic, expensive food they gave you status. However, part of it with acorns is definitely because they are bitter.

    How do chestnuts compare as a food source? They are infinitely preferred to acorns because they don't need to be leached to get rid of any tannins. All you have to do is score, roast, and then peel. You can eat them as is, make a pudding with milk, a mash, cereal, or, just let them dry and then grind for use as bread flour. Much less labor intensive than acorns. Oh, you can dry and then store them for the winter. We call them gussoni. All you need to do to reconstitute them is soak them in water, or, what I really used to like, is boil them in milk and then add a little honey.
    http://ricette.donnamoderna.com/var/...er_grande3.jpg
    what kind of chestnuts do you use?
    there is a domesticated species which is not bitter, but the original species is bitter

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post

    Can you show me any example of existing hunter gatherers planting trees? And not only sporadic trees. One would need to plant a forest with them to have steady supply of acorns, good enough quantity for the whole village main staple diet. Forrest would need to mature from seedlings too, and it takes about 50 years for oaks to mature, to give ample supply. That's twice the lifespan of average hunter gatherer! I don't think they had planned so much in advance, and were so patient. Especially if they used their time to hunt and find food in already rich forests of Europe.
    Why the heck waste time planting and eating something that doesn't taste good and is poisonous, and to make it adable is labour and water intensive? It doesn't make sense unless one is starving and need to eat anything to survive.

    Can you give us example of HGs planting apples?
    people living in Franchtti cave, Peleponesos
    13000 years ago they got obsidian from the island Melos (120 km ofshore) and they started to grow bitter vetch and pistachios, which they got from Anatolia

    mesolithic people in Europe burned down stretches of land, especially near lakes to stimulate the growth of certain plants which were food for the game they hunted

    the Ainu people in Japan harvested acorns on a big scale

    there are plenty of examples of huntergatherers starting to collect food from plants and stimulating the growth of these plants

    if agriculture hadn't spread from a few centers, many more crops would have been develloped localy by huntergatherers living in forested areas

    it is only after the last ice age, people started to live in or near forests, which had less game but more fruits and nuts

    as far as i know, apple trees are not indogenous to Europe, but central-Asian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberdeen View Post
    The archeology texts I've read, which were primarily about Britain, mention hazel nuts as an important food for humans during the Paleolithic, but I had the impression that acorns really only became important once people started farming and keeping pigs.
    that is possible
    it would be intersting to know when and where the use of acorns for food spread
    but this does not leave many traces, I guess we'll never know

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyperus_rotundus

    some similar species grew in the Nile Valey
    it is a weed which is today considered a plague in irrigated fields because if you can't remove the whole root, it keeps coming back
    so for the inhabitants of the Nile Valley it was an abundant food source that came back every year
    another food source was catfish : there was little rainfall, the Nile was a river only in summertime, after the summer floodings it changed into many ponds full of fish easy to catch
    the Nile Valley became overpopulated with frequent tribal wars
    after the climate shift, 14000 years ago, the Nile became depopulated for several 1000's of years
    Yes this is it bicicleur, and the related species esculentus...thanks.
    So the HG sighed with relief when they found it each year and to-day we sigh with dismay when we find it and have to dig it up. Much has certainly changed regarding our opinion of it. Although I see in some places it is still used and appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    From all we can gather, acorns were the last result for food choice, only during starvation I suppose.
    Yes, not sure I would agree that acorns were definitely a staple food, too little evidence for this at the moment. Perhaps it`s hard to find traces to-day depending on how they were processed. What we can say is if they were available they would, like other resources in HG society, have been used. I don`t think the preparation of them would necessarily be a reason to overlook them and compared to making traps or nets, trekking distances to gather foodstuffs or hunt down wild game, gathering a few acorns and throwing them onto fire would be easy work. Grandmother could even do this while other women were off gathering perhaps. They are a good protein source and I don`t think would only be used in times of starvation, not if they were there. Everything was valuable. That they were known and used to some degree could be considered in the light of these two pieces?
    First is the discovery of acorn use at Tybrind Vig in Denmark and second is thoughts on condition of teeth from finds at Grotte de Pigeons in Morocco. Neither prove them a staple, but show they were likely used routinely.

    http://www.academia.edu/8449693/The_...nd_Vig_Denmark

    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/3/954.abstract

    Mind you I haven`t read the first completely yet, so maybe not as conclusive as it looks on a glance. Still, interesting read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    what kind of chestnuts do you use?
    there is a domesticated species which is not bitter, but the original species is bitter
    That was a great question. I may have known this before, but if I did, I forgot it. What we eat is the domesticated "European sweet chestnut", which looks like, but is unrelated to the "Horse Chestnut". You know, the "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire type", a la
    "The Christmas Song": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhzxQCTCI3E

    They're still bitter raw, however, and the inner skin is very bitter. I'm a maniac about removing every speck of it before I eat them.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chestnut
    "The sweet chestnut was introduced into Europe from Sardis, in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the 'Sardian nut'.[18] It has been a staple food in southern Europe, Turkey and southwestern and eastern Asia[8][29] for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas.[30] Evidence of its cultivation by man is found since around 2000 B.C.[31] Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns.

    Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates.[8]

    In 1583, Charles Estienne and Jean Liébault wrote that "an infinity of people live on nothing else but (the chestnut)".[34] In 1802, an Italian agronomist said of Tuscany that "the fruit of the chestnut tree is practically the sole subsistence of our highlanders",[35] while in 1879 it was said that it almost exclusively fed whole populations for half the year, as "a temporary but complete substitution for cereals".[36]

    Boundary records compiled in the reign of John already showed the famous Tortworth Chestnut in South Gloucestershire, as a landmark; and it was also known by the same name of "Great Chestnut of Tortworth" in the days of Stephen.

    In 1584, the governor of Genua, who dominated Corsica, ordered to all farmers and landowners to plant four trees yearly, among which a chestnut tree – plus olive, fig and mulberry trees (this assumedly lasted until the end of Genoese rule over Corsica in 1729)
    . "

    It's quite extraordinary to think how quickly, relatively speaking, this tree spread. There are mountains covered in chestnut trees.

    So, this would definitely not have been available in the Paleolithic or Mesolithic.

    I also found it interesting that "fashion" and the association with poor mountain farmers has something to do with the fact that its bread, for example, largely went out of favor. Well, everywhere except among us...we're a stubborn type...conservative when it comes to our ways....

    No wonder they kept us alive for so mancy centures:
    Fresh chestnut fruits have about 180 calories[41] (800 kJ) per 100 grams of edible parts, which is much lower than walnuts, almonds, other nuts and dried fruit (about 600 kcal/100 g).[41] Chestnuts contain no cholesterol[52] and contain very little fat, mostly unsaturated, and no gluten.[10] Their carbohydrate content compares with that of wheat[38] and rice; chestnuts have twice as much starch as the potato.[32]They are the only "nuts" that contain vitamin C, with about 40 mg per 100 g of raw product, which is about 65 percent of the U.S. recommended daily intake. Only a little bit of protein, though, and it wouldn't supply the need for fats.

    Now that you opened up this line of inquiry, I looked up hazel nut trees (what we call nocciole are my other favorites).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelnut

    They definitely have been used since the Mesolithic, although we've learned how to increase their output.
    "In 1995, evidence of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing, some 9,000 years old, was found in a midden pit on the island of Colonsay in Scotland. The evidence consists of a large, shallow pit full of the remains of hundreds of thousands of burned hazelnut shells."

    Even earlier (15,000 years BP), there's the evidence from North Africa....they got cavities from eating so many of them:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/3/954

    They're apparently very nutritious, and no leaching is necessary...they're very sweet right out of the shell:
    Hazelnuts have a significant place among the types of dried nuts in terms of nutrition and health because of the composition of fats (primarily oleic acid), protein, carbohydrates, vitamins (vitamin E), minerals, dietary fibre, phytosterol (beta-sitosterol), and antioxidant phenolics[15] such as flavan-3-ols.[16]

    There's also this for acorns:
    Acorns are attractive to animals because they are large and thus efficiently consumed or cached. Acorns are also rich in nutrients. Percentages vary from species to species, but all acorns contain large amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus and potassium, and the vitamin niacin. Total food energy in an acorn also varies by species, but all compare well with other wild foods and with other nuts.[7] The fats are saturated, though.

    There's something about the fact that yield can vary greatly, meaning that it can be an unreliable food source. Perhaps the OP knows more about that...

    Ed. Sorry, Hope...cross reference

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    One of my old Italian cookbooks has some recipes that incorporate them.
    Have you tried any of these recipes, Angela? I have actually had a porridge type meal made from acorns with raspberries [not by choice but as way of experiment] It was palatable....cold and a bit gloppy.. but palatable..

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    people living in Franchtti cave, Peleponesos
    13000 years ago they got obsidian from the island Melos (120 km ofshore) and they started to grow bitter vetch and pistachios, which they got from Anatolia
    "to grow them" is an implied term. We don't know if they purposely grew them, or just brought few plants and nuts as food for the boat trip with obsidian shipment and "contaminated" local ecosystem with seeds. Afterwords plants grew without human help. It is possible that they brought nuts and planted them on purpose, but accidental seeding explains it as well.

    mesolithic people in Europe burned down stretches of land, especially near lakes to stimulate the growth of certain plants which were food for the game they hunted
    Again the purpose is implied. Accidental fires will start closer to dense populations more often than in wilderness.

    the Ainu people in Japan harvested acorns on a big scale
    I'm not questioning eating them. I'm questioning acorns being a main staple food and big scale planting, as per OEC posts.

    there are plenty of examples of huntergatherers starting to collect food from plants and stimulating the growth of these plants
    Yes, the smaller fast growing plants, like seasonal veggies. With trees not that much.

    if agriculture hadn't spread from a few centers, many more crops would have been develloped localy by huntergatherers living in forested areas
    This is the same scenario with every edible plant. Wheat and rice were the main ones, because they gave the best bang for the money, so to speak. Without wheat or rice there would be something else, or just extensive herding of animals like in steppes and mountains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    Have you tried any of these recipes, Angela? I have actually had a porridge type meal made from acorns with raspberries [not by choice but as way of experiment] It was palatable....cold and a bit gloppy.. but palatable..
    Well, first off, foods should never, in my opinion, be eaten cold, other than salad or fruits or baked goods. When I worked for my uncle in his restaurant, the worst chef rants would often be reserved for the poor waiter who let the food get cold after it was plated. Any kind of porridge turns gelatinous, in my opinion, as soon as it starts to cool. I don't even like oatmeal unless it's drowned in milk, dusted with so much sugar that it looks like Mont Blanc, and heaped with apples and raisins and anything else I can find.

    No, I haven't ever eaten acorns. The particular book I was referencing was produced by our local ethnographic museum. The only people I know who actually ate them are the people who lived through World War II, and they were eaten when even the chestnuts were starting to get over-gathered. The pigs are given them though...makes them nice and fat.

    Chestnuts can make you fat as well,of course, even if they seem to be slightly lower in calories than some of the other "nuts". (They're so sweet and delicious though. Too sweet in some ways. I love them just roasted, or in soup, or as part of a stuffing, or cooked with pork, but cakes made with it are too sweet for my taste.) My mom always said that people were at their fattest in the fall...grapes, figs, chestnuts, new oil, and even fresh pork. (It's definitely harder to be restrained in the fall and winter, and as we approach the Christmas Season, there should be flashing red lights spelling out
    "DANGER". )

    The whole subject of tannins in food is interesting. I learned from 23andme that some people genetically "taste" bitter things more strongly. In some ways you would think that would be selected for, as poisonous things are often bitter. On the other hand, if the plant is still edible, you would think it would be adaptive not to find tannins quite so "bitter". Then there's the whole subject of tannins in wine. For someone who so dislikes tannins in chestnuts etc., I've become quite fond of California Cabernets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    I don`t think the preparation of them would necessarily be a reason to overlook them and compared to making traps or nets, trekking distances to gather foodstuffs or hunt down wild game, gathering a few acorns and throwing them onto fire would be easy work. Grandmother could even do this while other women were off gathering perhaps.
    I'm not sure how roasting on fire deals with detoxification? If they are boiled, they need 2-3 changes or water, and this is no easy task when HGs don't have clay pots yet.

    I think they might have better economic sense to be fed to the pigs, who can digest and love eating them (the real adaptation of wild boar of European forests to its the main staple), and then eat delicious pork. And eating pork is European HG adaptation to its main staple food. We love it and can digest without poisonous reaction, even raw.
    My point was that what we eat and how we digest is a window into our culinary past. We are very adapted with joy of eating and ease of digestion to main staples of ancestral foods. On this base I can definitely say that acorns were never the main staple of European's food.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I'm not sure how roasting on fire deals with detoxification? If they are boiled, they need 2-3 changes or water, and this is no easy task when HGs don't have clay pots yet.

    I think they might have better economic sense to be fed to the pigs, who can digest and love eating them (the real adaptation of wild boar of European forests to its the main staple), and then eat delicious pork. And eating pork is European HG adaptation to its main staple food. We love it and can digest without poisonous reaction, even raw.
    My point was that what we eat and how we digest is a window into our culinary past. We are very adapted with joy of eating and ease of digestion to main staples of ancestral foods. On this base I can definitely say that acorns were never the main staple of European's food.
    I can imagine acorns being eaten by peasants during the Middle Ages, if they were serfs tied to the land but the landowner kept most of the grain. As you said, a food of last resort. But the OP was talking about Europe being repopulated after the last Glacial Maximum, when most of Europe was empty and it would have still been fairly easy at that point to find uninhabited areas. And if I was a Paleolithic person trying to make a living with stone age technology, I'd find a nice river delta or lake where there was plenty of fish and waterfowl, and lots of edible plants along the waterway. And it would preferably be near a grassland area where there was lots of game. I don't think the oak forests would hold much attraction for me because, apart from acorns and the occasional patch of blueberries, there wouldn't be a lot to eat. Game would be much scarcer in a forest than on the plains and there would be fewer salad type plants. In old growth forest, there's not much there except the trees and a few mushrooms. Tree shade limits other vegetation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I don't even like oatmeal unless it's drowned in milk, dusted with so much sugar that it looks like Mont Blanc, and heaped with apples and raisins and anything else I can find.
    No, I don`t much like oatmeal either Angela, regardless of what you might add. I always think it more akin to something you use to make paper mache. There is however one brand that I have eaten, it`s a powder form not the oat pieces. Add to warm milk, big spoonful of sugar and generous helping of cream...not good for diet but very tasty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    No, I haven't ever eaten acorns. The particular book I was referencing was produced by our local ethnographic museum. The only people I know who actually ate them are the people who lived through World War II, and they were eaten when even the chestnuts were starting to get over-gathered.
    Well I had my acorn porridge about two years ago, not during WW11....
    Not so keen on chestnuts, I always feel they have an "earthy" taste.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    The whole subject of tannins in food is interesting. I learned from 23andme that some people genetically "taste" bitter things more strongly. In some ways you would think that would be selected for, as poisonous things are often bitter. On the other hand, if the plant is still edible, you would think it would be adaptive not to find tannins quite so "bitter". Then there's the whole subject of tannins in wine. For someone who so dislikes tannins in chestnuts etc., I've become quite fond of California Cabernets.
    Yes, oddly many children often will not eat greens for a time when young, seems it may be an old instinct against poisonous food. I can`t comment on the Cabernet, I really don`t like wine...or any alcohol. So you have that and I`ll have double portion of figs and grapes ....

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