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“A short look to Andrew Dalby’s article”

An unknown Greek nutritionist* tries to classify the flavors of foods and determine how taste relates to the influence of diet. In complete disagreement with contemporary Western nutritional knowledge, his work is a fundamental starting point for understanding Byzantine views on how to choose food, wine, and fragrances. The author constantly refers to two primary couples, “hot and cold” and “dry and wet”. It counts indisputable four bodily secretions, blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. In these brief notes, there are sources such as "On the Power of Food and Drink" by Peri Trophon Dynameos, and "On Food" by De Cibis. The structure and power of food and drinks are evident from their flavors.** There are eight flavors: - Sweet - Caustic - Salty - Pungent - Oily - Bitter - Tasteless - Melting The SWEET taste is warm and moist. It is suitable for those with a balanced body and increases healthy blood production. It produces “yellow bile” in the case of those with a warm, dry, biliary body. All juicy sweet fruits have less warmth and dryness than sugar. With the increase in the sweetness ratio in any food and beverage, the temperature also increases. The CAUSTIC taste has more warmth and dryness than the sweet taste; touches those whose bodies are hot and dry. It relieves and dissolves “phlegm”, matures intense body secretions and helps those with cold and damp bodies. It causes thirst and stimulates appetite. SALTY taste is dry and hot (there is a source that says moist). It creates thirst in hot and dry bodies. It cuts the phlegm and dissolves the dark and unhealthy food residues in the stomach. The PUNGENT taste has a burning quality, like black pepper, catnip, onion, and garlic. All of them contain high temperatures, which affects hot and dry bodies. Breathing their scent causes headaches and thins the blood. It helps those with cold and damp body. It dissolves the dampness and darkness in the stomach and intestines, which are characteristic of cold and wet weather. The OILY flavor is reasonably warm and moist. It is suitable for dry and hot dispositions. It is not suitable for those with sensitive stomachs, it causes loss of appetite and indigestion. It is suitable for those with dysentery and those with a dry disposition. Castor oil and similar BITTER tastes have a dry and cold nature and are suitable for those with a moist nature. It is harmful to dry bodies. It is suitable for those whose stomachs are porous from excessive moisture and who have defecation disorders. Reasonably acrid foods such as quince, pears, apples, etc. have a reasonable capacity and ability to stimulate the activity of the stomach, intestines and liver and appetite for food. When consumed before other foods, they restrict natural function. TASTELESS flavors such as egg white, black cumin seeds and similar flavors are moist and cold, and they quickly bring the body to dampness. They are suitable for those with a hot and dry disposition. The MELTING taste is cold and dry. Rather, it is suitable for those with a warm disposition. It strengthens the stomach, increases appetite, stops stomach pain, promotes stomach activity, quenches thirst. It’s harmful for the cold humor bodies. It weakens nerves and damages them. The SOUR taste reduces, disperses, and dissolves moisture thanks to its natural dryness. -Andrew Dalby (The Taste of Byzantium p/141) Editor notes: Nowadays, it is very difficult to do our grocery shopping using Humorism or the 8 Taste principles with foods since they have changed DNA. However, we know those legends such as Byzantium, Eastern Roman Empire and Ottoman Empire developed medicine for hundreds of years based on these resources. In this case, we should not forget that the fruits that are recommended to be consumed during the season, or the supplements that we take when we are sick, hold on tightly to these sources. Recommendation: Find your own humor and research 8 flavors of the ingredients you mostly consume daily and consider consuming accordingly. Have an healthy life. Sanem Yucesoy *He possibly mentions Galen in 2nd century. ** We will relate this subject with Humorism.

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