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Bogdan Bucur

Abstract

This article examines the dietary habits of the predominantly rural (and also urban) population from Romania, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In order to access valid data regarding the diet of the local population, we used the analysis of social documents: journals and memoirs of foreign travelers transiting the Romanian Principalities (Wallachia and Moldavia) throughout the nineteenth century, respectively the monographic research of the Sociological School of Bucharest published mainly in the magazine called Sociologie Românească (1936-1942). At various points in time, we employed comparisons between the diet of the people from urban and rural environments, or between the food regimens of adults and children, correlations between the dietary habits and health status of the population, and between the dietary habits from Romania and those from other European and South American countries. A reading of the current article reveals certain a continuity, for hundreds of years, concerning the deficient dietary regimen of the Romanian peasant, who relied heavily on mămăligă, eaten together with several dairy products. Another conclusion is that, in the rural environment, food scarcity was not economically conditioned: even in the relatively prosperous households that were supplied with all the necessary aliments, women prepared plain, tasteless dishes, because they did not know how to cook. And finally, from a theoretical perspective, in this article we aim to address the rural roots of Romanian historiography and sociology of food (which we shall attempt to examine against similar scientific approaches from Western Europe).