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The book Tastes of Paradise by Wolfgang Schivelbusch is devoted to the history of human preferences in food and beverages. In addition, the author tries to link the food preferences of people at different periods of time to the social changes and historic events.
The aim of this essay is to analyze whether the stimulants tasted by people change our social class and history.
The main idea of the book
In the book Tastes of Paradise, Wolfgang Schivelbusch gives us an interesting opinion on the role of spices, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants in our history and social development. The author argues that the discovery of these stimulants influences the way of our life greatly and, thus, impact our history.
He mentions that people has been highly valuing the spices from the ancient times. The salt is one of the most widespread ingredients which everyone has on their kitchen. However, not everyone knows that the salt was associated with the health in the ancient times. However strange it seems to us now, but people believed that the salt improved their health. Nowadays we know that this is not really so. The excessive consumption of salt may cause serious diseases.
The author gives the examples from history when people dared to travel millions miles from home in order to provide the supply of the exotic ingredients to Europe. The spices, coffee, tea, and tobacco became the privilege of European aristocracy. The availability of these products made the foreign lands the bone of contention among the European empires. Furthermore, these goods became the objects of the brisk trade.
In order to get the access to them, the European nations took the bold actions and even engaged in the military conflicts. The price of spices, coffee, tobacco and other exotic goods in the international market attracted the merchants from different countries. Essentially, the trade in these goods was the source of the initial accumulation of capital.
The author also states that the attitude of people to some stimulants and natural ingredients depended on their religious views and beliefs. In particular, he mentions that the labor and activity were some of the highest values among the Protestants. It is not surprising that the coffee had always been their favorite beverage. Besides, they did not consume the alcohol and the coffee had become a substitute to it, to some extent.
In contrast, the Catholics preferred the chocolate. It was the delicacy available only to the Catholic aristocracy and the ordinary people did not have access to it.
Therefore, a substantial number of arguments proving the influence of the exotic natural ingredients on the mankind development exist.
Tastes and modern society
Nowadays people also like different kinds of stimulants and natural ingredients enhancing the taste qualities of dishes. However, the attitude of people to them has changed. They still like these goods but they understand that many of these products cause harm to their health.
The doctors often claim that coffee influences the nervous and cardiovascular systems negatively. The excessive consumption of spices can also be harmful. Smoking is said to be the cause of cancer and many other diseases. Even the black tea can cause harm to our health if we drink it frequently.
The information about the usefulness and harmfulness of various products available on the market is what people lacked in the past. Today we have an opportunity to find a lot of information in the Internet or other media. Besides, the medical science advanced substantially. The doctors worry us about the negative consequences of the consumption of various products. Nevertheless, a lot of people continue smoking, drinking alcohol, coffee and eating spices
I think these products continue influencing our lives substantially. In spite of the fact that we have become more aware of their qualities, we still spend some part of our budget on them. The alcohol and tobacco companies earn profits on people addiction to the alcohol and nicotine. Very often people who have low income are ready to pay a significant price for cigarettes, coffee, and alcohol. Undoubtedly, these products influence their economic welfare.
The consumption of the expensive wines, scotches, other beverages, and cigars is still considered to be the sign of the social status and prosperity.
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I agree with the idea that the stimulants influence the social development. They reflect people habits. And it is a well-known fact that our habits reflect our mentality. It would be logical to say that these products influence our history.
In order to summarize all above mentioned, it should be said that the tastes and food preferences play a crucial role in our life. The author of the book Tastes of Paradise expressed the idea that the stimulants and spices impact the social development and the history of mankind. He gives a number of persuasive arguments. I agree with his statement. In my opinion, our tastes and preferences reflect our values and personal features. That is why they indirectly influence our life path.