The Romans thought excessive milk drinking and eating butter was 'crude and tasteless'

Mark Kurlansky, the author of Milk: A 10,000-Year History, wrote an adapted article for Gastro Obscura about the Romans disdain for milk and butter consumption when they visited Britain:

During a visit to conquered Britain, Julius Caesar was appalled by how much milk the northerners consumed. Strabo, a philosopher, geographer, and historian of Ancient Rome, disparaged the Celts for excessive milk drinking. And Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, described the German diet as crude and tasteless by singling out their fondness for “curdled milk.”

The Romans often commented on the inferiority of other cultures, and they took excessive milk drinking as evidence of barbarism. Similarly, butter was a useful ointment for burns; it was not a suitable food. As Pliny the Elder bluntly put it, butter is “the choicest food among barbarian tribes.”

But the Romans weren’t the only milk and butter critics. The Ancient Greeks used “butter eaters” as an insult for the Thracians who lived north of Greece. Interestingly, cheese was exempt from such criticism as both the rich and poor enjoyed a variety of cheeses. I guess they thought feta of it.

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