Be they fauna or flora, there are foods that simply went extinct, they no longer exist. Have you heard of the ansault pear, for example? The early 19th century writer UP Hendrick described it as a “high quality” fruit. And we will have to take only his word for it, after all, the ansault pear disappeared shortly after these words were published.
And it wasn’t just her. Many fruits, vegetables and meats that will never be tasted again, either because they were consumed until they became extinct or due to other historical factors, these are the foods of history that can no longer be eaten.
First cultivated in Angers, France, in 1863, the fruit was prized for its flavor. In the 1917 book The Pears of New York, UP Hendrick wrote that it “is remarkable and creamy, better than any other pear. quality”.
Scattered trees and the rise of commercial agriculture contributed to the fruit’s death. Ansault pear trees were difficult to grow in large orchards, making them unattractive to commercial farmers, who opted for other pear varieties. It completely disappeared in the early 20th century.
Considered “flying rats” these days because of their diseases and lice, certain varieties of pigeons were once food. The passenger pigeon, for example, was a vital food source for the Seneca Native American people, who called it jah’gowa, or “big loaf.” The bird apparently was so tasty that it wasn’t able to survive.
Hunting, combined with habitat and food loss, reduced their numbers from as many as 3 billion in the early 1800s to just one in 1900. That last pigeon, a captive pigeon named Martha in honor of the first lady of the United States of America. He died at the Cincinnati, Ohio Zoo in 1914.
You may have heard of aurochs from the “Game of Thrones” series, but this creature doesn’t belong in the same category as dragons. It is, in fact, a species of cattle that was domesticated 10,000 years ago. They were large and leaner than modern cows.
After suffering from disease and habitat loss, the species declined until the last aurochs died in a Polish forest in the 17th century. But there have been efforts to revive the species — or at least produce a new animal that comes close. The meat of an aurochs-like cow bred in the modern era is juicy and tender, with a “wild” flavor.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had many uses for this leek flavored herb. Its stems were cooked and eaten as a vegetable, while its sap was dried and grated over various dishes as a seasoning. It also had medicinal uses: apparently it was an effective form of birth control, and its heart-shaped seeds may be why we associate that shape with love today.
Silphium only grew in a swath of present-day Libya, and could not be cultivated. Demand for the precious herb quickly outstripped its natural supply. Pliny the Elder wrote that only one Silphium plant was discovered during his lifetime, and it was presented to the Roman emperor Nero between 54 and 68 AD
The first Dutch sailors visited the Mauritius chain in 1598 and less than two centuries later, the dodo native to the archipelago was extinct. Sailors depended on birds for sustenance during long voyages at sea – but that’s not the main reason they disappeared. Habitat and the introduction of invasive species, such as rats and pigs, ended up decimating them.
Although humans have eaten dodo meat, it was more for survival than taste. The last person to see a dodo, an English sailor named Benjamin Harry, called its meat “very tough”. The Dutch word for dodo was “walghvodel” (“disgusting bird”).
Steller’s sea cow
German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller identified the Steller sea cow around the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea in 1741. Growing up to 9 meters in length, it was significantly larger than sea cows alive today. Also, it was quite tasty. The salty meat was compared to corned beef (beef treated in brine and boiled in vinegar over low heat) and the fat tasted like almond oil. Sailors reported drinking the melted fat from cups.
Steller’s sea cows were a source of leather and lamp oil, as well as meat. The animal was hunted to extinction in 1768, less than 30 years after it was first described.
Woolly mammoth meat was an important component in the diet of our earliest ancestors. We ate so much of them that hunting may have contributed to their extinction around 2000 BC.
Despite being extinct for thousands of years, several modern scientists and explorers claim to have tasted mammoth meat. As mammoth specimens are often found perfectly preserved in the icy Arctic, they could technically be thawed and eaten.
Thomas Jefferson grew taliaferro apples in Monticello, Virginia, United States. In an 1814 letter to his granddaughter, Jefferson said that the tiny fruit produced “indisputably the finest cider we ever knew, and more like wine than any drink I ever tasted that was not wine.”
Although the apple is believed to have been lost with the property’s original orchard, some horticulturists still hold out hope for its survival.
Humans killed large ancas on a large scale to make duvet (a kind of duvet) with their feathers, leading to the extinction of the species in the mid-19th century. Before that, however, they were hunted for consumption.
Fossil evidence indicates that Neanderthals cooked flightless birds over open fires as early as 100,000 years ago. The Beothuks, people who today inhabit the Newfoundland region of Canada, used large-capped eggs to make pudding.
Before American bison were nearly hunted to extinction in the 19th century, Bison Antiquus, or ancient bison, disappeared 10,000 years ago. Bones have been found that show evidence of slaughter with tools. This suggests that Native Americans depended on the ancient bison for food, just as they do their modern relatives.
old cornish cauliflower
Old Cornish cauliflower was not famous for its taste, but it had an advantage over other varieties. The vegetable was resistant to a destructive plant virus called ringworm. In the 1940s European growers began to replace the old Cornish cauliflower with a French variety that was more resistant to transport and it became extinct in the 1950s. regions of Great Britain.
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