Ancient northern Europeans spiced their venison, seafood and other dishes with tangy mustard seeds. Germany archeologists discovered residues from the garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) plant's seeds in burned leftovers caked onto ceramic pots.
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The crust of charred, spicy foods ranged from approximately 6,100 to 3,750 years ago. (And my wife thinks I'm bad about cleaning my dishes promptly!) At that earliest date, domesticated animals had not yet reached the areas on the Baltic Sea coast where the ancient mustard meals were discovered. This may mean Europeans developed the use of spices independently and weren't just copying practices imported from further south along with livestock, wrote the study authors in the journal PLOS ONE.
Peppery-flavored mustard seeds contain little nutrition, which suggests the spices were being used solely for flavoring. Ancient Europeans seem to have been concerned with the culinary qualities of their cuisine, not just its calories and nutrients, which may mean Stone Age people sought to go beyond simple survival to enjoy the finer things in life.