In my last few posts, I have discussed the value of foods being brought back in time for the time traveler looking for a gold and silver alternative. There are some foods that have value in reverse to the ones previously mentioned. These foodstuffs were cheaper in eras past than in the modern world. These can be interesting souvenirs, especially if the explorer of time wishes to recreate foods from their travels.
For the traveler visiting the Edwardian era and prior, oysters can be a very inexpensive souvenir for the culinary experimenter. Oyster beds in the modern world have become far smaller than their historical counterparts. Locations where one can find such cheaper mussels, include Manhattan during the early years of the United States and England, especially London during the Tudor and Victorian eras. While many today enjoy oysters, there are foods that become rather cost prohibitive to recreate with the modern prices of oysters. One such recipe comes from the Victorian era and involves at least a pint or quart of oysters: oyster soup. As you can imagine, most home cooks would not attempt this for the expense of the ingredients and the possibility of failure wasting the ingredients. However, the frugal time traveler may wish to purchase a large amount for a souvenir.
Truffles, the fungus not the chocolate kind, are another food that can be a very nice grab depending on the era of destination. Truffles, prior to WWI, were somewhat more plentiful than today. Keep in mind that they weren’t nearly as plentiful or as cheap as oysters were. However, they were somewhat less expensive and rare prior to that point. The price increase and availability decreased occurred as a combination of the fields where they grew, getting destroyed and the death of the people who knew where certain field were at. I have heard that some people would pass down the secret of the family truffle field only when they were very elderly but since those people died before they could share, the field’s location was lost. Now while that could be made up and I am not sure of the validity of the story, it is true and known that truffles today are more expensive than they were prior to the Great War. The time traveler looking for a food that could make them some money, may wish to purchase truffles or if they can, discover whether all previous fields that no longer exist were just destroyed or simply forgotten.
A third option, especially if you don’t like truffles or oysters but like a good class of wine, is alcohol. You don’t necessarily have to get only wine. There are liquors you can buy that would be relatively cheap at the time of manufacture but would be vastly more expensive today. Liquors and wines from Napoleon, Louis XIV, or Louis XVI, could be a good idea. Very little of these liquors exist today. While someone could argue that a bottle of Napoleonic wine would not taste the same brought back through time travel as it would have sitting in a cave somewhere surviving through all the wars and time between, that’s fine. Even though it is relatively fresh, it would allow the traveler to experience the wine the way those of the era would have enjoyed it. Someone enjoying a Louis XVI wine would not have experienced a wine that was a few hundred years old. The taste would have been very different. Cognac of a similar age would also have a very different flavor with time travel. The temporal explorer would be able to enjoy the tastes of a different era as those of the era would have experienced it, not as time has changed the taste.
Oysters, truffles, and alcohol are but a few of the culinary items that have become more expensive in the modern era but were cheaper in the past. These are but a few options for the time traveler to bring back with them. Of course, certain foods require proper storage but the temporal explorer that has the ability to traverse time most likely has the capacity to prevent food spoilage. What foods would you try to bring back with you if you were able to time travel? Please comment below and thanks for reading.