Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Gods of Pork and Beans

The title for this post was not done in jest.  Rather, it is meant to be a smashing follow-up for my post, Why We Need To Eat Meat.  So many people today will look at you with eyes that say, "shame on you" for enjoying the wonderful taste of a mouth watering steak.  Oh well, that's too bad for them.  Let me introduce you to a lovely greco-roman goddess known as Carna/Carea/Carneis, whose name variation was dependent on geographic location.  For simplicity, I will refer to her as Carna.

Carna was a goddess of protection and was called upon to protect a person's heart, liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines against various illnesses.  And, to heal if stricken.  Those ancient greco-romans held her feast day on June 1st and celebrated by preparing large amounts of lard, beans, bacon, and other pork in her honor.  Then, they would sacrifice (offer) to Carna her fair portion and ate the rest; all of it.  Somehow I do not think Carna was concerned about farts.  In all cultures on the feast days of their various gods, the sacrificial meal always was consumed by the human adherents.   And, in the ancient world, the meat that was consumed on those feast days (pig, goat, or cow) was dependent on the god/goddess for which the supplication was being offered.  Now is the time for a literary pregnant pause:  other than on those feast days, the greco-roman diet contained little or no meat.  Let's take a trip north.

The Celts offered in sacrifice, depending on deity, cattle, sheep, and goats and to their Artemis, a variety of wild game.  In keeping with ancient custom, the human supplicants ate the rest.  And, the ancient Celts' regular diet consisted of milk, cheese, and meat, a lot of meat.

The cousins of the Celts, the Germanic/Norse, were a bit similar to the Celts in how they paired off the various animals to sacrifice for their deities; pork (boar) and goats were two favorites.  Today, pork and goats still are used by Germanic/Norse descendants during the celebration of Jul/Yule (Christmas).  The basic diet of the Germanic/Norse peoples consisted mainly of milk, cheese, and meat.

There are a few reasons why the northern diet was meat/protein rich while the southern was not; those reasons are detailed and will not be mentioned here.  What should be understood is that that protein rich northern diet held a few surprises for the ancient Greeks and Romans as it should for us today.

According to Julius Caesar and Tacitus, the Celts and the Germanic/Norse were Big and Beautiful.  The northern Europeans just towered over their southern contemporaries, because of that meat/protein enriched diet; it made them bigger in stature and physically stronger.  When the Second World War was over the United States occupied Japan and introduced meat and other major proteins into the Japanese diet.  And when those babies grew into adults, they were taller and stronger than their parents.  Meat is king and also what's for dinner.

                                                  Copyright @ Terry Unger 2012

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