Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Graphing Meats

Last week I wrote a post about a news story about an article in Food and History, noting my skepticism towards some claims about medieval beef consumption.

Since then I've added a handful of pages of data to the Statistics from Medieval Cookbooks. That's all well and good, but I wondered if I could graph some of the data and see if it made any trends more apparent. The graphs, along with some comments are below.

First though, I'd like to note again that this data comes from medieval cookbooks, and there is very likely some disconnect between the number of times an ingredient appears and the frequency of consumption. Second, the data set is small and there seems to be a lot of "noise" in the sample. Third, I am not a statistician. That being said, let's take a look at the graphs.

Fish / Seafood

In this graph it looks like there may be a slight downward trend in fish consumption overall. There's a pretty clear downward trend for France, and a slightly smaller one for England.


I think the data point for Du fait de cuisine in this graph is an outlier and should be ignored. Everything else looks like a reasonably flat trend line.


The decreasing trend here is pretty clear, even if Du fait de cuisine is an anomaly. What's more, the trend for the English cookbooks is very clear.


Finally, the crux of the matter, there appears to be a rising trend for beef, with a very low starting point. The spike from Du fait de cuisine is echoed in Le Recueil de Riom, so it could be valid. When England and France are taken separately, the rate of increase is higher for France.

Overall, this supports the claim that pork consumption in Europe declined during the 14th and 15th centuries, but it still doesn't do much for the ideas that beef was the most popular type of meat in France and England, or that it appears in Viandier or Forme of Curye more often than other meats.

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