The expansion of tastes or the acquisition of taste is a process that is learned; This process has both psychological and biochemical components. The process of acquiring taste is extremely complicated. On the one hand, it entails overcoming the inertia of established habits, those habits that exclude a potentially new food unit, considering it exotic, unfamiliar, poisonous or somehow connected with enemies or outcasts of society. On the other hand, it includes adaptation to chemically unusual food. This process activates such involuntary systems of the body as, for example, the immune system; it also includes psychological mechanisms, such as, say, the desire to accept a new food for reasons that may be both social and related to its nutritional value. In the case of hallucinogenic plants, changes in the image of oneself and in one’s social roles, often following the establishment of the acceptability of these plants, are very quick and serious. But let’s not forget that hallucinogens are located on the very edge of the food scale.
What can be said about the innumerable multitude of plants that give food flavor, but represent insignificant nutritional value and have negligible psychoactivity? They had the opportunity to become those food units that people used constantly. In fact, they have gone from being an exotic luxury for the few idle class of the Roman Empire, to becoming commercial goods, which directed the immense efforts of Europeans to explore and colonize new lands and start the car of the merchants and the creation of empires that replaced the stagnation Middle Ages in Christian Europe, fixated on intra-social issues.
“Variety gives a taste of life,” says the famous maxim. But after studying the influence of plants and plant products on the history of mankind, it would be more correct to say: “Taste gives life a variety”. The Middle Ages – and their ending – is just such a case.
The culture of dominion has never been so strongly protected as in Christian Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire. And, it seems, it is possible to say with certainty that hardly ever did the people stay in such a protracted situation of the paucity of psychoactive drugs and the absence of chemical stimulants. Diversity that promotes learning and boredom has been absent from Europe for too long.
Medieval Europe was one of the most closed, neurotic and hating women from all societies that had ever existed. It was a society dying to escape from itself, a society obsessed with too harsh morality and the suppression of sexuality.
It was a landbound society, ruled by meat-eating gouty, wearing clothes and suppressing women. And is there anything strange in the fact that dyes and spices — perhaps the cause of social revolutions — have become the point of some absolute mania in medieval Europe? And the strength of this mania was such that the art of shipbuilding and navigation, the banking and trading industry turned entirely to the ministry of addiction to these things, experienced by most Europeans. Spices (as a new taste) gave food and, consequently, life, a variety previously unknown. Dyes, new dyeing techniques and exotic fabrics have revolutionized fashion.