Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia

First Contact:


gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization

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About the Tribe

Even (formerly known as Tungus) are an Indigenous people of Eastern Siberia living in five regions of the Russian Federation: Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Khabarovsky krai, Magadanskaya oblast, Kamchatsky krai and Chukotka. Today, Even number over 22,000 people according to the 2010 Census. Nomadic Even were reindeer herders and hunters; and also fished seasonally. The primary activities of settled Even on the Sea of Okhotsk were fishing, gathering, and hunting marine mammals. Even of the northeastern part of the Sea of Okhotsk coast call themselves Orochel, i.e. ‘reindeer people’, ‘owning reindeer’ (Popova 1981: 5). Even of the Magadan oblast call themselves Menel, which means ‘seated people’, ‘living in one place’ (Popova 1981: 11). Even from the Lower Kolyma river call themselves Ilkar – «real people» (Petrov 1991: 3). Even also have an internal distribution of names: Namankans (sea Even or people of the coast) and Donrytkans (‘living in the deep taiga’ or ‘people of the deep interior’ (Popova 1981: 6–7).

The Evens are hunter-fishermen related to the Evenki that live in the Chukotka, Kamchatka and Magaden regions. Also known as Lamuts and Tungas, they have traditionally lived in chums, wigwam-type dwellings covered with bark or fish skin, and made a variety of things from birch bark.

Like the Evenki, the Evens are unique in the world in that they have a small population but occupy a huge expanse of land. There are only around 17,000 Evens but have traditionally lived in an area covering 3 million square kilometers, an area roughly the size of Western Europe, that embraces mountains, taiga and tundra. Their neighbors include the Yakut, Yukagir, Chukchi and Koyak.

The existence of the Even as a distinct group is partly the work of the Russians who defined them as a distinct group rather than a subgroups based on their language and cultural elements. Over time they became more distinct as they borrowed features from other groups such as the Koyak methods of herding reindeer and the dwellings of the Chukchi and Koryak.



Importance of Animal Products

Even people as well as Evenki people do not have a word for «hello» or «goodbye» in their languages. When Even meet each other they usually say: yav bultanny? Which means ‘how was the hunt?’ Or yak ukchenek, ‘what’s the news?’ A combination of reindeer herding with fishing and hunting is at the core of Even culture. Since Even people were mostly living in mountainous regions, an important food source is the wild mountain sheep (Ujamkan). But there are also others such as wild reindeer (Bujun), moose (Toki), bear (Nakat), musk-deer, (Buchen), marmot (Chamak), different birds and fish. Nonetheless, reindeer are at the core of Even culture and spiritual life. They say: Oron bidjin – Even bidjin, Oron acha odjin – Even acha odjin (As long as there is reindeer – Even will exist. If reindeer disappear – Even will also disappear). Even use reindeer as transport for hunting and for milking. If hunting or fishing was not successful they would resort to slaughtering their own reindeer for food. The connection to reindeer is very close, so this would only be done as a last resort. A reindeer would live for a long time in the family, especially transport reindeer (Gildak) and people preserve a close connection to every reindeer. 

Nimat - Customary Law Many Indigenous Peoples have the tradition of gifting, sharing and reciprocity in their system of social relations. Formally, gift and gifting are voluntary in these societies, but in practice are required; enabling a system of social relations based on the gift that is wider than just economic relations (Godelier 2007). Nimat is the customary law of Even and Evenki. This law is related to hunting and reindeer herding traditions. In literature it is often written that Nimat is a sharing law, but this is a simplification of this tradition. It is more than just sharing. After a successful hunt, a person who killed an animal(s) would offer this as the gift to a friend or his relative. He usually takes only the stomach with intestines or anything else, which would deteriorate quickly. Other parts of the animal usually stay at the place where it was harvested. Then he went home and told his friend or relative that he has a gift for him (Nimat) and that he can find this gift in a certain place. Then he explains him how it can be found. That person had to go then to find it and bring the game back home and share it among other members of community (Gayun – sharing and distribution of game between members of community). He had to decide which part of the animal(s) everyone would get. (Osenin 2017) Nimat is a fundamental law for Even people and food culture is deeply connected to this law. Game caught by one, is also for others: shared with all, and not only between those who are involved in the hunting, but also visitors will get their share – «Nemada» (share of the hunting without participation in it). Not only relatives but also neighbors, and even random people enjoyed unlimited hospitality and fell into the category of the Mata - a person who got a share of the game after hunting. In the past, this custom, and law in the understanding of Even people, pervaded all areas of their lives: it has an explanation in terms of economy, in particular, distribution practices, and in terms of social life, as a mechanism for establishing friendly and, under favorable circumstances, kinship relations on the exchange. It was also deeply rooted in the mind of a hunter, who believed that hunting success depends largely on the goodwill of the host-spirits. In Even traditions the custom of Nimat was elevated to the level of law. But the punishment for violation of this law would come not from people, but from nature. Even believe that after a successful hunt for a mountain sheep, wild reindeer or any other animal; if you do not share with your relatives or friends, then you will not have hunting luck, you will get nothing. The custom of sharing game is a kind of social relations between people, but also relates to the relationship between the society / individual and nature: the need for sharing caused by the traditions based on Even and Evenki notions of our connection with the earth. This was also an attempt to establish social relations with the world of nature and the spirit world in order to ensure vital functions and continued life. The apparent reason for sharing – the expectation of reciprocity and gift not only from a person, but from the nature/ earth/host-spirits (because the hunter did the «right» thing). The accumulation of moral benefits, exceeds the scope of social links and moves into the sphere of relations between «humans – animals – spirit-owners.» Nimat provides territorial and economic relations between the nomads not only between relatives but also between unrelated clans. Probably, this custom helped Even and Evenki peoples settle Siberia so widely, where they had to live on the land occupied by other ethnic groups. So Even people are a very hospitable people, their hospitality has even been spoken of as being unlimited. They have another custom called Idekhe. This is about the slaughter of reindeer for guests and people close by. When you have a guest or when someone close by to you comes to your camp, reindeer herders make Idekhe.


Even use reindeer also for milking. They can milk reindeer from July to February. An adult productive female reindeer (Nyamichan) can produce approx. 1 liter of milk per day with a fat content of up to 19%. Even add it to tea. They also beat milk using a whisk (Itaki), which is then added to Even bread and blueberries.


For Even, the favorite dish made from reindeer milk is Kebel. To make it, fresh reindeer milk is filtered through a dense sieve and cooled down. Then you need to add 1/2 of teaspoon of leaven diluted in a tablespoon of milk and slowly, slowly stir, gradually adding it to 0.5 liters of reindeer milk. Within 15 - 20 minutes the milk will ferment and become a yogurt, then you add blueberry, cloudberry or Even bread and a tasty delicacy is ready. It is usually served for breakfast and you can work for a full day with the reindeer, without feeling hungry. But the most important thing is the leaven preparation: You need fresh abomasum of a just slaughtered reindeer, turn it inside out and, without washing the contents fill it with the fresh reindeer milk. Hang it in the Chora (Even traditional tent) above the fire with smoke and then dry it in the shade. You can also prepare a leaven from the abomasum of the wild mountain sheep – Uyamkan.


The slaughter of a reindeer (Idekhe) or the occasion of a successful hunt for wild reindeer or mountain sheep means time for a feast for an Even family. The first dish is always made from the intestines of animals – a stomach soup (Chalmi, Hilta hilen). When you slaughter domestic reindeer, you immediately make an incision in the solar plexus and cut a blood vessel located along the spine, this is blood for making blood sausage. It turns out a lot of whey and with that you can make a sausage with a bright color. The entrails should be carefully and completely pulled out from the body so as not to spill the contents of the rumen onto other organs. The rectum (Momikan) and cecum, (Mevki) should be kept for the preparation of blood sausage. Other entrails: rumen (Goodi), abomasum (Orakan) and omasum (heŋŋi) should be washed with warm water. And the small intestine (hilta) and duodenum (Kurikich) are washed very carefully, without washing out the contents because they contain a variety of useful enzymes for human consumption, especially in the small intestine. In the old days, the bouillon from stomach soup without fat used to be given to malnourished people who had been hungry for a long time. It can be lethal to eat immediately after a long period of hunger. To such people, do not give a lot of the stock, only small portions every half an hour to revitalize the flora inside their stomach. After only a day or two, this person could drink more bouillon and eat nonfat cuts of viscera. Gradually he/ she will recover after this dish. Many people have been revived thanks to this knowledge. After washing the intestines, you put them into a large pan of boiling water in a specific order. First the rumen, then the abomasum, the midriff and the duodenum. At the end, you put in the small intestines. The small intestines are not boiled for long and are removed after 2 - 3 minutes, otherwise they will dissolve, and the bouillon will become bitter. After boiling all entrails, they are cut into small pieces and added to the bouillon. This soup is poured into bowls and served hot. Even food culture is diverse and rich and a wealth of knowledge is embedded in the Even food system and it is important to preserve, use and develop this knowledge system. Our food systems are little studied and the taboos and sacred knowledge surrounding it offer rich insights and clues as to how Even people can thrive moving forward into the future.

In Topolinoye 30 years ago an elder reindeer herder was lost. His name was Golikov Dmitry Gavrilovich. Afterward he couldn’t explain how it happened. He just went to search for his missing reindeer, without light, food, tent or any other things. They were looking for him for a long time and had not found him. We thought that he and his riding reindeer had been killed by a bear or that there had been an accident. After 1.5 months, this herder came by himself into the camp, which was 700 km away from his herd. He was exhausted and had been starving for a long time. Reindeer herders immediately slaughtered a reindeer and made a bouillon from the stomach soup to give to him. He survived. All reindeer herders are aware of this method from their parents. Story told by Maria Pogodaeva

The Even have traditionally been reindeer herders and hunters. Originally reindeer were used primarily as beasts of burden but as their traditional hunting methods changed they began to rely more on them as a source of food and hides. Today, some Even maintain very large herds of reindeer, with the largest in the 1990s having around 2,000 or so animals. The migration routes are often well defined and in many cases have been followed for centuries by particular clan groups or ethnic groups.

The Even eat nearly every part of the reindeer, including marrow, tendons, gristle and the soft parts of the hooves and horns. They regard eating the meat and tissues raw—particularly the lungs, kidneys and liver—as healthy. They also eat gathered plants, locusts, berries and nuts. Sufferers of frostbite were traditionally treated by wrapping them in the carcass of a freshly killed reindeer. Burns were treated with reindeer blood.

Even Hunting Life

The Even hunted of deer, elks (moose), bears, rabbits, foxes, mountain goats, musk deer and other animals for meat and for fur. When hunting wild reindeer they employed a domesticated reindeer attached with a lasso that would entangle any reindeer that tried to fight it. This deer would be maneuvered by a hunter to the leader of the herd who would try to battle it.

Before firearms became widely used the Even hunted bears alone with a spear and knife. The hunter encouraged the bear to charge and when it did the hunter threw a piece of cloth in the air to get the animal to rise up on its hind legs, leaving its chest area exposed. The hunter then kneeled and extended the spear forward. When the bear tried to lung for the hunter it impaled itself on the spear. The hunter usually had a dog with him whose purpose was to distract the bear if something went wrong with the hunt, allowing the hunter to escape.

The Even used powerful bows when hunting elk (moose) and crossbow-like contraptions to hunt small animals. Mountain goats were ambushed from a hiding place, deer were often killed only after being wounded and chased, sometimes for several days. In the winter the Even followed animals and track them on skis. The Even also fished and hunted nerpas (seals). During the salmon migration season they sectioned off parts of rivers and caught large number of fishing. To catch other kinds of fish they use square and conical nets.

Importance of Plants

They also eat gathered plants, locusts, berries and nuts.

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Transition to Industrialized Food Products

History of the Evenki and Evens

Until around a century ago no distinction was made between the Even and Evenki—ethnic minorities that are recognized as different today. The two groups are more alike than they are different. Their lifestyles, Tungus-Manchu, Altaic language and traditional religions are similar. The main difference is that the Even live mainly in northeast Russia and the Evenki live in the southeast and north central areas of Siberia. The two groups have been physically separated from each other long enough that some different characteristics have emerged.

Tungus-speaking people emerged in ancient times in Siberia. The ancestors of the Evens and Evenki were closely related to the Turkic-speaking Yakut. Around the 11th century B.C. a northern branch of the Tungus began to have contact with the ancestors of the Yukagir. Threatened by the ancient Turks, Tungus-speaking people began migrating to the west, north and particularly the northeast. In the 15th and 16th centuries the people that became the Evens and Evenki settled on the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk. Even though this area was very sparsely populated there were conflicts with other people that lived there, particularly with the Koryaks over grazing pastures for reindeer.

The consolidation of the Evenki as a distinct group with a distinct territory took place after the arrival of the Russians. The Russians set up a system of tribute and in the process of defining which group gave them what they helped the groups establish territories with roughly-defined borders. 

The Evenkis used to be called the Tungus. Describing them in the 1820s, the explorer John Bell wrote: 

"They have no homes where they remain for any time, but range throughout the woods and long rivers for pleasure; and,wherever they come, they erect a few spars, in clinging to one another at the top; these they cover with pieces of boiled birch bark, sewed together, leaving, a hole at the top to let out smoke...They can not bear to sleep in a warm room, but retire to their huts and lie about the fire on skins of wild bears. It is surprising that these creatures can suffer the very piercing cold of these parts."

"They are very civil and tractable, and like to smoke tobacco and drink brandy...I have seen many of the men with oval figures, like wreaths, on their foreheads and chins...These are made, in their infancy, by pricking the parts with needles and rubbing them with charcoal...They have many shamans among them, I was told of others, whose abilities for fortune-telling far exceeded those of the shaman."

"The women dressed in a fur-gown, reaching below the knee, and tied about the waist with a girdle...made of deer skins, having their hair curiously stitched down and ornamented...The dress of the men consists of a short jacket with narrow sleeves made of deer skin, having the fur outward; trousers and hoses of the same kind of skin...They have besides a piece of fur, that covers the breasts and stomach, which is hung about the neck with a string of leather."

"Their arms are a bow and several sorts of arrows, according to the different kinds of game they intend to hunt...In winter, the season for hunting wild beasts, they travel on what are called snow shoes...They have a different kind of shoe for ascending hills, with the skins of seal glued to the boards, having the hair inclined backwards which prevents them from sliding on there shoes...When a Tungus goes hunting into the woods, he carries with him no provisions, but depends entirely on what he has to catch."

After the arrival of the Russians the Even were forced to expend more effort to producing furs for tributes to the tsar and less energy to traditional hunting. The introduction of firearms also changed their hunting style dramatically. Some hunters wore a hunting hat with ornaments made of walrus ivory.

Since the break up of the Soviet Union the Evenks and the Nenets have suffered catastrophic declines in life expectancy and high rates of sickness and death that have prompted speculation that some of those groups may become extinct. [Source: Library of Congress, 1996]

Jan 1, 100

Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes


Aretaeus of Cappadocia (30–90 A.D.) is the second to describe diabetes and uses 'to run through' or 'a siphon' to explain how one urinates unceasingly until death.

Aretaeus of Cappadocia (30–90 A.D.), living under the emperor Nero, and writing in Ionian Greek, was the second to describe diabetes, and the first known to have called it by the name (to run through; a siphon). In a passage translated by Schnée", Aretaeus outlines some of the principal symptoms, the progressive course, and the fatal prognosis. He anticipates modern conceptions of a failure of assimilation, conversion of tissue into urinary products, and possible origin of some cases in acute infections. He was retrograde in treatment, for he advised a non-irritating diet of milk and carbohydrates, and hiera, nardum, mastix, and theriak (opium?sugar?) as drugs. He is commonly credited with being the first to regard diabetes as a disease of the stomach; but his vague notion of a disorder akin to ascites hardly entitles him to a claim upon this false idea which was productive of so much truth in the period from Rollo to Cantani.

“Diabetes is a strange disease, which fortunately is not very frequent. It consists in the flesh and bones running together into urine. It is like dropsy in that the the cause of both is moisture and coldness, but in diabetes the moisture escapes through the kidneys and bladder. The patients urinate unceasingly; the urine keeps running like a rivulet. The illness develops very slowly. Its final outcome is death. The emaciation increases very rapidly, so that the existence of the patients is a sad and painful one. The patients are tortured by an unquenchable thirst; they never cease drinking and urinating, and the quantity of the urine ex ceeds that of the liquid imbibed. Neither is there any use in trying to prevent the patient from urinating and from drinking; for if he abstains only a short time from drinking his mouth becomes parched, and he feels as if a consuming fire were raging in his bowels. The patient is tortured in a terrible manner by thirst. If he re tains the urine, the hips, loins, and testicles begin to swell; the swelling subsides as soon as he passes the urine. When the illness begins, the mouth begins to be parched, and the saliva is white and frothy. A sensation of heat and cold extends down into the bladder as the illness progresses; and as it progresses still more there is a consuming heat in the bowels. The integuments of the abdomen become wrinkled, and the whole body wastes away. The secretion of the urine becomes more copious, and the thirst increases more and more. The disease was called diabetes, as though it were a siphon, because it converts the human body into a pipe for the transflux of liquid humors. Now, since the patient goes on drinking and urinating, while only the smallest portion of what he drinks is assimilated by the body, life naturally cannot be preserved very long, for a portion of the flesh also is excreted through the urine. The cause of the disease may be that some malignity has been left in the system by some acute malady, which afterward is developed into this disease. It is possible also that it is caused by a poison con tained in the kidneys or bladder, or by the bite of the thirst-adder or dipsas.”

"Aretaeus’ writings were unknown in Europe until 1552. His aim in treating what was clearly type 1 diabetes was to overcome the  diabetes: the intense thirst, and to this end he began with a purge and followed it with a variety of mixtures to soothe the stomach."

Diabetes: The Biography

Jan 1, 100

Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes


A Roman named Aulus Cornelius Celsus describes diabetes 2000 years ago.

Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) made no mention of any condition clearly recognizable as diabetes. A notion concerning the quantity of urine, in a passage translated by Richardson from the third book of the Epidemics,” is like that of Celsus, but the first known recognition of diabetes occurred at about the height of the Roman power. 

Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 B.C.–50 A.D.) wrote as follows: 

“When urine, even in excess of the drink, and flowing forth without pain, causes emaciation and danger, if it is thin, exercise and massage are indicated, especially in the sun or before a fire; the bath should be infrequent, nor should one linger long in it; the food should be con stipating, the wine sour and unmixed, in summer cold, in winter luke warm; but everything in smallest possible quantity. The bowels also should be moved by enema, or purged with milk. If the urine is thick, both exercise and massage should be more vigorous; one should stay longer in the bath; the food should be light, the wine likewise. In each disease, all things should be avoided that are accustomed to increase urine.” 

In this compressed passage, Celsus gives the first description of diabetes, introduces an error (fluid output greater than intake) destined to endure eighteen centuries, and touches some modern treat ment. It is not known to what extent this knowledge was original with Celsus or handed down by predecessors. At any rate, the recog nition of the disease was so new that it had not yet received a name. 


Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC – c. 50 AD) was a Roman encyclopaedist, known for his extant medical work, De Medicina, which is believed to be the only surviving section of a much larger encyclopedia. The De Medicina is a primary source on diet, pharmacy, surgery and related fields, and it is one of the best sources concerning medical knowledge in the Roman world. The lost portions of his encyclopedia likely included volumes on agriculture, law, rhetoric, and military arts. He made contributions to the classification of human skin disorders in dermatology, such as Myrmecia, and his name is often occurring in medical terms about the skin, e.g., kerion celsi and area celsi.


Jan 1, 205

A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices


Galen says on usage of broad beans as food: "Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby."

In terms of diets, we also know that specific types of athletes were fed in ways that matched their needs and improved their performance. One such form of sport was the ancient gladiator, and here we learn from Galen, that beans were highly recommended in order to build bulk into such athletes. Galen even goes so far as to state that the bean should be boiled long enough in order to avoid flatulence [28].

On broad beans: “There is also much use made of these, since soups are prepared from them, the fluid one in pots and the thick one in pans. Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby. The food is flatulent, even if it has been cooked for a very long time, and however it has been prepared, while ptisane gets rid of all flatulent effect during the period of cooking.”

Jan 1, 210

A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices


Celsus preferred beef while Galen preferred pork in terms of providing the best nutrition.

 In the early days, athletes relied on their trainer to make sure that their dietary needs were met. However, it was not long before medical doctors took over, and the first sports physicians were created. In a report from Philostratos we learn [23].

“...The Sicilian style of fancy food gained popularity; the guts went out of athletics and, more important, trainers became too easy on their pupils. Doctors took the lead in introducing permissiveness, setting it up as an adjunct to their treatment...from these Doctors athletes learned to be lazy and to exercise after sitting around stuffed with enough food to fill an Egyptian or African meal sack; they gave us chefs and cooks to please our palates. They turned athletes into gluttons with bottomless stomachs.”

However, whilst it was popular or fashionable to have a physician designing your diet, it seems that these medical doctors did not always share the same opinion about what the athletes should eat. Celsus, who was not trained as a medical practitioner, although he wrote a great deal about medical practices, and Galen, who was medically trained, did not agree on the type of meat that was the “strongest”, that is to say the most nutritious, for an athlete. Celsus preferred beef whilst Galen, who was particularly enthusiastic about the advice given, considering him to be an expert on diet and exercise [25], gave the Olympic gold, so to speak, to pork, which he felt was the most nutritious form of meat. Maybe this was based on his own positive experience with pork when he was a medical practitioner in Pergamon where he took part in the training of gladiators.

Ancient athletes would most likely not have been able to afford very much protein in the form of meat, and would as a consequence not have eaten meat on a daily basis. However, we know from Celsus [19] and Galen [22] that meat in the form of terrestrial and aquatic livestock was considered nutritious, and was classified among the “strong” foodstuffs. Celsus and Galen [19,22] could not, however, agree as to which meat was the “strongest”, Celsus [19] favoured beef, whilst Galen [22] never misses a chance to sing the praises of pork, which alongside fresh milk was his favourite food.

“Among food from domesticated quadrupeds pork is the weakest, beef the strongest. And so also of game, the larger the animal the stronger the food yields” [19]

“Flesh, when well concocted, produces the best blood, especially in the case of animals such as the pig family, which produce healthy humour. Pork is the most nutritious of all foods, and athletes provide a very visible test of this. For when, after identical exercises, they take the same amount of a different food on one day, straightway on the following day they appear not only weaker but also obviously less well fed.”

“Beef itself gives a nutriment that is neither small in quantity nor easily dispersed; yet it produces blood that is inappropriately thick” [28].

“Lambs also have flesh that is very moist and productive of mucus. But that of adult sheep is more productive of residues and more unwholesome. The flesh of goats is unwholesome too, with bitterness” [28].

Poultry was also considered a nutritious foodstuff, although here size mattered. Celsus [19] ascribed poultry to the “medium” class of foodstuffs, whilst Galen was not so generous in his appraisal, preferring once again to extol the virtues of pigs and terming poultry meat as “poorly nutritious”.

“Likewise of those birds, which belong to the middle class, those which rely more on their feet are stronger food than those which rely more on their wings; and of those birds which depend on flight, the larger birds yield stronger food than the smaller, such as fig-eater and thrush. And those also which pass their time in the water yield a weaker food than those which have no knowledge of swimming” [19].

“The family of all winged animals is poorly nutritious when compared with that of terrestrial animals, especially pigs: you would find no flesh more nutritious than theirs” [28].

Fish too were classified as a “middle” foodstuff by Celsus [19], although here preference was given to the oily fish such as mackerel in comparison with bass and mullet. This is in accordance to general recommendations today concerning intake of oily fish like salmon and tuna, although the reason given here is to prevent heart diseases. Galen goes one step further in his assessment of fish, telling us that they are not appropriate for athletes but should rather be reserved for those who are weak and ill.

“The fish most in use belong to the middle class; the strongest are, however, those from which salted preparations can be made, such as the mackerel; next come those which, although more tender, are nevertheless firm, such as the gilthead, gurnard, sea bream, eye fish, then the flat fish, and after these still softer, the bass and mullets, and after these all rock fish” [19].

“But from all the above fish the nutriment is best for those who are not in training, and the idle, frail and convalescent. People in training need more nutritious food, about which there has been previous comment” [28].

“...the best milk is just about the most wholesome of any of the foods we consume”[28].

“For cows´ milk is very thick and fatty, while milk from the camel is very liquid and much less fatty; and next to the latter animal is that from mares, and following this, ass´s milk. Goat´s milk is well proportioned in its composition, but ewe´s milk is thicker” [28].

“Its continued use also harms the teeth, together with the flesh surrounding them, which they call “gums”. For it makes these flabby, and makes the teeth liable to decay and easily eaten away. Accordingly one should rinse the mouth with diluted wine after consuming milk, and it is better if you put honey with it” [28].

“Moreover it is neither unwholesome nor very markedly productive of thick humour, a common charge against all cheeses. A very fine cheese is the one highly regarded by the wealthy in Rome (its name is bathysikos), as well as some others in other regions” [28].

“Among pulses, beans and lentils are stronger food than peas” [19].

“However, they [Figs] do not produce firm, strong flesh like bread and pork do, but a spongy flesh, as the broad bean does” [28].

Jan 1, 1267

The Popes and Science


A Friar Bacon is punished (for writing too much) "He was ordered to be confined to his cell in the monastery and to be fed on bread and water for a considerable period"

Unfortunately, difficulties occurred within Friar Bacon's own order. It is not quite clear now just how these came about. The Franciscans of the rigid observance of those early times took vows of the severest poverty. There had been some relaxation of the rule, however, and certain abuses crept in. The consequence was the re-assertion after a time of the original rule of absolute poverty in all its stringency. It was Friar Bacon himself who had chosen this mode of life and had taken the vows of poverty. Paper was a very dear commodity, if indeed it was invented early enough in the century for him to have used it. Vellum was even more expensive. Just what material Bacon employed for his writings is not now known. Whatever it was, it seems to have cost much money, and because of his violation of his vow of poverty Roger Bacon fell under the ban of his order. He was ordered to be confined to his cell in the monastery and to be fed on bread and water for a considerable period. It must not be forgotten that this was within a century after the foundation of the Franciscans, and to an ardent son of St. Francis the living on bread and water would not be a very difficult thing at this time, since his ordinary diet would, at least during certain portions of the year, be scarcely better than this. There is no account of how Roger Bacon took his punishment. He might easily have left his order. There were many others at that time who did. He wished to remain as a faithful son of St. Francis, and seems to have accepted his punishment with the idea that his example would influence others of the order to submit to the enforcement of the regulation with regard to poverty, which superiors now thought so important, if the original spirit of St. Francis was to be regained.

Jul 20, 1585

'A People of Tractable Conversation': A Reappraisal of Davis's Contribution to Arctic Scholarship


English Explorer John Davis sails to Greenland and discovers the Inuit for the first time, noticing they were "very tractable people", however, he didn't record their eating habits.

Yet, on reading their reports, one cannot fail to be struck by the explorers’ relatively unprejudiced tone as they describe the natives’ mutual solicitude or even their fundamental honesty. It is true that Davis sometimes seems to contradict himself: commenting on the Inuit’s apparent passion for iron – which caused them to steal the ship’s anchor – Davis felt bound to denounce their ‘vile nature’. But both Davis and Janes display a genuine interest in the Arctic people they interacted with. Failing to find a new maritime route to China, Davis appears to have turned part of his attention to the Inuit instead. The Inuit often take pride of place and it looks as if the description of their mores had been substituted for the traditional list of profitable ‘commodities’ that can be found in so many travel narratives. This is all the more remarkable as the quest for a Northwest or Northeast maritime route to China partly originated in the English merchants’ desire to remedy their financial woes after the cloth trade with Antwerp and the Low Countries had become less profitable.  What is more, Davis did not content himself with listing their drinking and eating habits, or ‘the many little images’ and diverse cultural artefacts they produced. Our main contention is that Davis also approached their language with linguistic acuity. 

Encountering 'very tractable people': Arctic pre-ethnography 

Davis set sail in June 1585 with a total crew of forty-two. He was the captain of a ship called the Sunshine while the other ship, the Moonshine, was under the command of one William Bruton. John Janes was Davis’s supercargo and a member of the Sunshine’s crew. Davis and his men sighted Greenland for the first time on 20 July. He seems to have been far from favourably impressed if one is to judge by the name he chose to give it: 

The 20. as we sayled along the coast the fogge brake up, and we discovered the land, which was the most deformed rockie and montainous land that ever we saw ... the shoare beset with yce a league off into the sea, making such yrksome noyse as that it seemed to be the true patterne of desolation, and after the same our Captain named it, The Land of Desolation.

 Davis and his men then turned Cape Farewell (Uummannarsuaq) without trying to explore the coast and entered what is now the fjord of Nuuk (Nuup Kangerlua, previously Godthaab Fjord), which Davis named ‘Gilbert Sound’, at latitude 64°11’. It was there that they first encountered a group of Inuit. If the very first contact proved a little baffling and rather disconcerting, Janes tells us that surprise and diffidence rapidly gave way to ‘many signs of friendship’: 

The Captain, the Master and I, being got up to the top of an high rock, the people of the countrey having espied us, made a lamentable noise, as we thought, with great outcries and skreechings: we hearing them, thought it had been the howling of wolves ... Whereupon M. Bruton and the Master of his shippe, with others of their company, made great haste towards us, and brought our Musicians with them from our shippe, purposing either by force to rescue us, if need should so require, or with courtesie to allure the people. When they came unto us, we caused our Musicians to play, ourselves dancing, and making many signs of friendship.

 It is perhaps significant that the first interaction between the two parties should have taken such a musical form as this scene may be said to set the tone for Davis’s subsequent encounters with the different groups of Inuit he met. On the whole, it seems that concord prevailed over disharmony, though it is important not to oversimplify the necessarily complex and ambivalent feelings that both sides mutually experienced towards the other party. It should also be noted that, from the start, the Inuit’s ‘speech’ and their ‘pronunciation’ aroused Janes’s linguistic curiosity: ‘their pronunciation was very hollow thorow the throat, and their speech such as we could not understand’. If Frobisher’s first contact with the natives gave rise to a display of gymnastic virtuosity on the part of the Inuit, in Davis’s case the first encounter between the explorers and the natives concluded with music, dancing and a scene of rejoicing: ‘one of them came on shoare, to whom we threw our cappes, stockings and gloves, and such other things as then we had about us, playing with our musicke, and making signes of joy, and dauncing’.

In the rest of his narrative, Janes often insists on the feelings of ‘trust’ and ‘familiarity’ that gradually developed between the two groups. On the second day, the English gained the trust of the Inuit by mimicking their attitudes and ‘swearing by the sun after their fashion’: ‘so I shook hands with one of them, and he kissed my hand, and we were very familiar with them. We were in so great credit with them upon this single aquaintance, that we could have anything they had.’ Much like Thomas Harriot who also admired the ingenuity of the native Algonkians, Janes marvelled at the skill of the Inuit. In particular, he showed deep interest in their fine – and warm – sealskin buskins, gloves and hoses, for which he willingly exchanged his much less comfortable clothes, ‘all being commonly sowed and well dressed: so that we were fully perswaded they have divers artificers among them.’ In fact, except for their religion – or lack thereof – Janes did not find anything wrong with them, as can be seen from the following description of the first group he came into contact with: ‘they tooke great care one of another ... They are very tractable people, void of craft or double dealing, and easie to be brought to any civility or good order: but we judge them to be idolaters and to worship the Sunne.’

Jan 1, 1673

Directions for Governing the Appetite Or, Directions against Gluttony


Richard Baxter, a priest born in 1615, wrote about the sin of gluttony and says the causes are both excess and "Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit."

I. Gluttony is a voluntary excess in eating, for the pleasing of the appetite, or some other carnal end.

(1.) It is sometimes an excess in quantity, when more is eaten than is fit.

(2.) Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit.

(3.) Or it may be an excess in the frequency or length of eating; when men eat too often, and sit at it too long.

(4.) It may be an excess in the costliness or price; when men feed themselves at too high rates.

Common gluttony is when it is done for the pleasing of the appetite, with such a pleasure, as is no help to health or duty, but usually a hurt to body or soul; the body being hurt by the excess, the soul is hurt by the inordinate pleasure.

Yes, it is a kind of gluttony and excess, when men will not fast or abstain when they are required, from that which at other times they may use with temperance and without blame. If a man is accustomed to not eat excessively nor deliciously, yet if he will not abstain from his temperate diet, either at a public fast, or when his lust requires him to take down his body, or when his physician would diet him for his health, and his disease else would be increased by what he eats—this is an inordinate eating and excess to that person, at that time. Or if the delight that the appetite has in one sort of food, which is hurtful to the body, prevails against reason and health so with the person that he will not forbear it, it is a degree of gluttony, though for quantity and quality it is in itself but ordinary.

By this you may see:

1. That it is not the same quantity which is an excess in one, which is in another. A laboring man may eat somewhat more than one that does not labor; and a strong and healthful body may eat more than the weak and sick. It must be an excess in quantity, as to that particular person at that time, which is, when to please his appetite he eats more than is profitable to his health or duty.

2. So also the frequency must be considered with the quality of the person; for one person may rationally eat a little and often, for his health; and another may luxuriously eat more often than is profitable to health. Ecclesiastes 10:16, 17, "Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness."

3. And in point of costliness, the same measure is not to be set to a prince and to a ploughman; that is luxurious excess in one, which may be temperance and frugality in another. But yet, excessive cost, which, all things considered, would do more good another way, is excess in whomever.

4. And in tastiness of diet a difference must be allowed: the happier healthful man need not be so particular as the sick; and the happy ploughman need not be so particular, as state and expectation somewhat require the noble and the rich to be.

5. And for length of time, though unnecessary sitting out time at table is a sin in any, yet the happy poor man is not obliged to spend all out so much this way, as the rich may do.

6. And it is not all delight in food, or pleasing the appetite, that is a sin; but only that which is made men's end, and not referred to a higher end; even when the delight itself does not tend to health, nor alacrity in duty, nor is used to that end, but to please the flesh and tempt unto excess.

Jan 1, 1674

Sir Thomas Willis

Diabetes Mellitus


Thomas Willis treats diabetes by recommending diet high in sugar to replace leaking sugar, discovered sweet taste of pee.

1674 - Diabetes Mellitus by Sir Thomas Willis - Oxford

"In 1674, Thomas Willis treated diabetes by recommending a diet high in sugar, in order to replace the sugar being leaked by the kidneys, thereby inadvertently hastening patients’ deaths." via David Haslam

"Thomas Willis pensively sipped from his glass. It was sweet, even a little delicious. In 1674 the Oxford University physician was far from the first doctor to taste urine, but he was the first Western doctor we know of to connect the sweetness of urine to the condition of its owner, a person suffering the effects of diabetes. Willis was baffled by his findings and recorded his experience in Pharmaceutice rationalis: “But why that it is wonderfully sweet like sugar or honey, this difficulty is worthy of explanation.” Sickening Sweet

Jan 1, 1732

Samuel Hearne

Lachesis Lapponica - A Tour in Lapland


Legendary scientist Carl Linnaeus (von Linne) spent 6 months living with the northern Laplanders in Sweden and witnessed their exclusive meat and dairy diet and happy and healthy demeanor.

I never met with any people who lead such easy happy lives as the Laplanders. In summer they make two meals of milk in the course of the day, and when they have gone through their allotted task of milking their reindeer, or making cheese, they resign themselves to indolent tranquillity, not knowing what to do next. In winter their food is cheese, taken once or twice a day, but in the evening they eat meat. A single reindeer supplies four persons with food for a week.

Such of the male reindeer as are destined to serve for a stock of provision, are killed before the rutting-time, and their carcases hung up to be exposed to the air and frost before flaying. The flesh is smoked and a little salted, and then laid upon sledges to dry in the sun, that it may keep through the winter till spring. About the feast of St. Matthias (Feb. 24.) the reindeer begin to be so incommoded with the gad-fly, that they are not in a fit condition to be slain for eating. From that period therefore, till the milking season, the Laplanders are obliged to live on this stock of preserved meat. At other times of the year the females are killed for immediate use, according as they are wanted. The blood is kept fresh in kegs, or other vessels, and serves for food in the spring, being added to the _välling_, with a small proportion of milk and water. The blood of these animals is thick in consistence, like that of a hog. The Laplanders carry a portion of it along with them from place to place, in bladders or some kind of vessels. A stock of this and all other necessaries is collected as late as possible, before the melting of the snow, while there still remains a track for the sledges. 

A kind of blood pudding or sausage is made, in general without flour, and with a large proportion of fat. This the Laplanders call _marfi_. 

The liver of the reindeer, which is of a considerable bulk, is boiled and eaten fresh. The lungs, being salted and moderately dried, are eaten occasionally, or else given to the dogs. The intestines, which abound with fat, are cut open, washed, and boiled fresh; nor are they unpalatable. The brain and testicles are never eaten.

The people of this country boil their meat in water only, without any addition or seasoning, and drink the broth. _Jumomjölk_ kept for a whole year is delicate eating. Berries of all kinds are boiled in it. Some persons make a practice of boiling those berries by themselves, preserving them afterwards in small tubs, or other wooden vessels. They boil their fish more thoroughly than their meat, over a slow fire, drinking likewise the water in which it has been drest. The meat is never so much boiled as to separate from the bone. Fresh fish is sometimes roasted over the fire. Few people dry and salt it, though that method is sometimes practised. Meat is dried by the air, sun and smoke all together, being hung up in the chimney, or rather hole by which the smoke escapes through the roof. 

The Laplanders never eat of more than one dish at a meal. 

By way of dainty, the women occasionally mix the berries of the Dwarf Cornel (_Cornus suecica_) with _Kappi_ , which is made of whey boiled till it grows as thick as flummery. To this they moreover add some cream. That fruit is entirely neglected in the country of Medelpad. 

In Dalecarlia the people generally keep their cattle up in the mountains, twelve or sixteen miles from their own dwellings, on account of gad-flies and other stinging insects. There they have their dairies, and make cheese. The remaining whey is boiled till two thirds are wasted, when it becomes as thick as flummery. This is sometimes eaten instead of butter, sometimes mixed with dough, or serves for food in various other manners.

The mode of their entertainment is as follows. First, if the stranger arrives before their meat is set over the fire to boil, they present him either with iced milk, or with some kind of berries mixed with milk, or perhaps with cheese, or with _kappi_. Afterwards, when the meat is sufficiently cooked, and they have taken it out of the pot, they put into the water, in which it has been boiled, slices of cheese made of reindeer milk. This is a testimony of hospitality, and that they are disposed to make their guest as welcome as they can. They next serve up some of their dry or solid preparations of milk.

The reindeer are not slaughtered in the same manner as cattle usually are either at Stockholm or in Smoland. The animal being secured with a halter, the Laplander takes his spear and sticks it into the thorax behind the shoulder, so as to pierce the heart. By this means the blood collects in the cavity of the thorax, none of it appearing externally. After the skin is flayed off, the blood is found coagulated in the thorax, from whence it is extracted, and bruised into a soft mass. With this the poorer sort of people make a kind of soup, by boiling along with it the brains of the animal, which the rich do not eat. The testicles are never eaten by any sort of people. The penis serves to make a thong to draw the sledges.

Being exceedingly tired with this walk, I was glad to repose myself here in the desert, while my Finland conductor went in search of my future guide. Nor was I without considerable fears that this man, when he had met with the Laplander, might not be able to find me again. However, about noon he returned, accompanied by a Laplander, who took charge of me, inviting me home to his hut, where he treated me with fish, and fresh water. 

I was afterwards conducted from one Laplander to another, till I came to a part of the river, about twenty-five miles above Lycksele. I shall not dwell on the inconveniences I was obliged to undergo every time we had to seek for any of the Laplanders, while I was quite destitute of provisions. These poor people themselves had, at this season, nothing but fish to eat, as they had not yet begun to slaughter their reindeer, nor to go a fowling; neither had they, as yet, milked any of their reindeer.

The stone and gout are entirely unknown amongst the Laplanders.

I have not heard of a single instance of jaundice.

Jul 21, 1768

Royal College of Physicians of London


First mention of chest pain in England.


Michaels recounts that William Heberden, one of the “most learned physicians of the day,” presented the first properly recorded cases of chest pain to the Royal College of Physicians of London on July 21, 1768. The afflicted “are seized, while they are walking . . . a painful and most disagreeable sensation in the breast, which seems as if it would take their life away if it were to increase or to continue.” These attacks would continue for months, or even years, until the final blow came. Heberden called the condition angina pectoris (severe pain of the breast) (Michaels 2001, 9).

Apr 1, 1770

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean.


Samuele Hearne travels with the Northern Native Americans in order to explore the Northwest Passage and explains how they were reliant on fish alone followed by other animals like deer and beaver.

The remaining part of this month passed on without any interruption, or material occurrence, to disturb our repose, worth relating: our fishing nets provided us with daily food, and the Indians had too much philosophy about them to give themselves much additional trouble; for during the whole time not one of them offered to look for a partridge, or anything else which could yield a change of diet.

As the time may now be supposed to have lain heavy on my hands, it may not be improper to inform the reader how I employed it. In the first place, I embraced every favourable opportunity of observing the latitude of the place, the mean of which was 58° 46' 30" North; and the longitude by account was 5° 57' West, from Prince of Wales's Fort. I then corrected my reckoning from my last observation; brought up my journal, and filled up my chart, to the place of our residence. I built also some traps, and caught a few martins; and by way of saving my ammunition, set some snares for partridges. The former is performed by means of a few logs, so arranged that when the martin attempts to take away the bait laid for him, he with very little struggle pulls down a small post that supports the whole weight of the trap; when, if the animal be not killed by the weight of the logs, he is confined till he be frozen to death, or killed by the hunter going his rounds.[77]

1770. April.

To snare partridges requires no other process than making a few little hedges across a creek, or a few short hedges projecting at right angles from the side of an island of willows, which those birds are found to frequent. Several openings must be left in each hedge, to admit the birds to pass through, and in each of them a snare must be set; so that when the partridges are hopping along the edge of the willows to feed, which is their usual custom, some of them soon get into the snares, where they are confined till they are taken out. I have caught from three to ten partridges in a day by this simple contrivance; which requires no further attendance than going round them night and morning.

-- April 1st, 1770

I have already observed that nothing material happened to disturb our repose till the first of April, when to our great surprise the fishing nets did not afford us a single fish. Though some of the preceding days had been pretty successful, yet my companions, like true Indians, seldom went to sleep till they had cleared the tent of every article of provision. As nothing was to be caught in the nets, we all went out to angle; but in this we were equally unsuccessful, as we could not procure one fish the whole day. This sudden change of circumstances alarmed one of my companions so much, that he began to think of resuming the use of his gun, after having laid it by for near a month.

 Early in the morning we arose; when my guide Conne-e-quese went a hunting, and the rest attended the nets and hooks near home; but all with such bad success, that we could not procure enough in one day to serve two men for a supper. This, instead of awakening the rest of my companions, sent them to sleep; and scarcely any of them had the prudence to look at the fishing nets, though they were not more than two or three hundred yards from the tent door.

-- April 1770. 

My guide, who was a steady man, and an excellent hunter, having for many years been accustomed to provide for a large family, seemed by far the most industrious of all my crew; he closely pursued his hunting for several days, and seldom returned to the tent till after dark, while those at the tent passed most of their time in smoking and sleeping.

--April 10th 1770.

Several days passed without any signs of relief, till the 10th, when my guide continued out longer than ordinary, which made us conjecture that he had met with strangers, or seen some deer, or other game, which occasioned his delay. We all therefore lay down to sleep, having had but little refreshment for the three preceding days, except a pipe of tobacco and a draught of water; even partridges had become so scarce that not one was to be got; the heavy thaws had driven them all out towards the barren grounds. About midnight, to our great joy, our hunter arrived, and brought with him the blood and fragments of two deer that he had killed. This unexpected success soon roused the sleepers, who, in an instant, were busily employed in cooking a large kettle of broth, made with the blood, and some fat and scraps of meat shred small, boiled in it. This might be reckoned a dainty dish at any time, but was more particularly so in our present almost famished condition.

-- April 11 1770.

After partaking of this refreshment, we resumed our rest, and early in the morning set out in a body for the place where the deer were lying. As we intended to make our stay but short, we left our tent standing, containing all our baggage. On our arrival at the place of destination, some were immediately employed in making a hut or barrocado with young pine trees; while one man skinned the deer, the remainder went a hunting, and in the afternoon returned to the hut, after having killed two deer.

Several days were now spent in feasting and gluttony; during which the Indians killed five more deer and three fine beavers; finding at last, however, that there was little prospect of procuring either more deer or beavers, we determined to return to our tent, with the remains of what we had already obtained.[79]

-- April 22 1770.

The flesh of these deer, though none of the largest, might with frugality have served our small number, (being only six) for some time; but my companions, like other Indians, feasted day and night while it lasted; and were so indolent and unthinking, as not to attend properly to the fishing nets; so that many fine fish, which had been entangled in the nets, were entirely spoiled, and in about twelve or fourteen days we were nearly in as great distress for provisions as ever.

Jun 23, 1770

Samuel Hearne

A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean in the Years 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772


Hearne experiences the feasting and famine lifestyle of carnivorous eating while dragging his equipment over the land- and even has to rely on eating raw fish and raw musk oxen to make ends meet, however, he continued in "perfect health"

Beside the inconvenience of being exposed to the open air, night and day, in all weathers, we experienced real distress from the want of victuals. When provisions were procured, it often happened that we could not make a fire, so that we were obliged to eat the meat quite raw; which at first, in the article of fish particularly, was as little relished by my Southern companions as myself.

-- June 1770

Notwithstanding these accumulated and complicated hardships, we continued in perfect health and good spirits; and my guide, though a perfect niggard of his provisions, especially in times of scarcity, gave us the strongest assurance of soon arriving at a plentiful country, which would not only afford us a certain supply of provisions, but where we should meet with other Indians, who probably would be willing to carry part of our luggage. This news naturally gave us great consolation; for at that time the weight of our constant loads was so great, that when Providence threw any thing in our way, we could not carry above two days provisions with us, which indeed was the chief reason of our being so frequently in want.

-- June 23 1770.

From the twentieth to the twenty-third we walked every day near twenty miles, without any other subsistence than a pipe of tobacco, and a drink of water when we pleased: even partridges and gulls, which some time before were in great plenty, and easily procured, were now so scarce and shy, that we could rarely get one; and as to geese, ducks, &c., they had all flown to the Northward to breed and molt.

-- June 1770.

Early in the morning of the twenty-third, we set out as usual, but had not walked above seven or eight miles before we saw three musk-oxen grazing by the side of a small lake. The Indians immediately went in pursuit of them; and as some of them were expert hunters, they soon killed the whole of them. This was no doubt very fortunate; but, to our great mortification, before we could get one of them skinned, such a fall of rain came on, as to put it quite out of our power to make a fire; which, even in the finest weather, could only be made of moss, as we were near an hundred miles from any woods. This was poor comfort for people who had not broke their fast for four or five days. Necessity, however, has no law; and having been before initiated into the method of eating raw meat, we were the better prepared for this repast: but this was by no means so well relished, either by me or the Southern Indians, as either raw venison or raw fish had been: for the flesh of the musk-ox is not only coarse and tough, but smells and tastes so strong of musk as to make it very disagreeable when raw, though it is tolerable eating when properly cooked. The weather continued so remarkably bad, accompanied with constant heavy rain, snow, and sleet, and our necessities were so great by the time the weather permitted us to make a fire, that we had nearly eat to the amount of one buffalo quite raw.