medieval food list

[57] Since sugar and honey were both expensive, it was common to include many types of fruit in dishes that called for sweeteners of some sort. [20] This caloric structure partly reflected the high-class status of late Medieval monasteries in England, and partly that of Westminster Abbey, which was one of the richest monasteries in the country; diets of monks in other monasteries may have been more modest. Medieval Food for Peasants. Domestic pigs often ran freely even in towns and could be fed on just about any organic waste, and suckling pig was a sought-after delicacy. In the early-15th century, the English monk John Lydgate articulated the beliefs of many of his contemporaries by proclaiming that "Hoot ffir [fire] and smoke makith many an angry cook. Almonds were very popular as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces, particularly as almond milk. Another flavoring method was to increase the alcohol content, but this was more expensive and lent the beer the undesired characteristic of being a quick and heavy intoxicant. In northern France, a wide assortment of waffles and wafers was eaten with cheese and hypocras or a sweet malmsey as issue de table ('departure from the table'). The definition of "fish" was often extended to marine and semi-aquatic animals such as whales, barnacle geese, puffins and even beavers. See also, Le Ménagier de Paris, p.218, "Pour Faire une Tourte. The Menu: Sweets. [50] While the necessity of the cook's services was occasionally recognized and appreciated, they were often disparaged since they catered to the baser of bodily human needs rather than spiritual betterment. Towards the Late Middle Ages a separate kitchen area began to evolve. In Medieval times, food was medicine, religion and status. The intention was not to portray certain foods as unclean, but rather to teach a spiritual lesson in self-restraint through abstention. In a recipe for quince pie, cabbage is said to work equally well, and in another turnips could be replaced by pears. This was the most common arrangement, even in wealthy households, for most of the Middle Ages, where the kitchen was combined with the dining hall. Almost universal in middle and upper class cooking all over Europe was the almond, which was in the ubiquitous and highly versatile almond milk, which was used as a substitute in dishes that otherwise required eggs or milk, though the bitter variety of almonds came along much later. Though rich in protein, the calorie-to-weight ratio of meat was less than that of plant food. In the middle ages, food and eating was very different. Utensils were often held directly over the fire or placed into embers on tripods. Everyday food for the poor in the Middle Ages consisted of cabbage, beans, eggs, oats and brown bread. Geographical variation in eating was primarily the result of differences in climate, political administration, and local customs that varied across the continent. Egg yolks were considered to be warm and moist while the whites were cold and moist. [29], As with almost every part of life at the time, a medieval meal was generally a communal affair. When speaking of medieval foods, most people think of one or two things: drab, tasteless foods, or the historically inaccurate meals served at medieval reenactments where patrons eat sans utensils while watching some sort of entertaining reenactment. During particularly severe fast days, the number of daily meals was also reduced to one. Social codes made it difficult for women to uphold the ideal of immaculate neatness and delicacy while enjoying a meal, so the wife of the host often dined in private with her entourage or ate very little at such feasts. Poor adults would sometimes drink buttermilk or whey or milk that was soured or watered down. From the 8th to the 11th centuries, the proportion of various cereals in the diet rose from about a third to three quarters. The change in attitudes can be illustrated by the reactions to the table manners of the Byzantine princess Theodora Doukaina in the late 11th century. Edited from the Ms. S 103 Bibliothèque Supersaxo, (in the Bibliothèque cantonale du Valais, Sion, by Terence Scully, Beth Marie Forrest, "Food storage and preservation" in, Martha Carling, "Fast Food and Urban Living Standards in Medieval England" in, Margaret Murphy, "Feeding Medieval Cities: Some Historical Approaches" in, Hans J. Teuteberg, "Periods and Turning-Points in the History of European Diet: A Preliminary Outline of Problems and Methods" in, Cabbage and other foodstuffs in common use by most German-speaking peoples are mentioned in Walther Ryff's dietary from 1549 and, Adamson (2004), pp. Dietary and behavioral inferences from dental pathology and non-masticatory wear on dentitions from a British medieval town. Each had its place within a hierarchy extending from heaven to earth. [24], The regional specialties that are a feature of early modern and contemporary cuisine were not in evidence in the sparser documentation that survives. [13], The caloric content and structure of medieval diet varied over time, from region to region, and between classes. While the nobility enjoyed luxurious feasts, peasants consumed only very basic meals. Meat was roasted most of the time, but occasionally turned into stews. As in the modern day, the food and drink of Medieval England varied dramatically. The first cookbooks began to appear towards the end of the 13th century. The peasants’ main food was a dark bread made out of rye grain. Meat was a staple food among the rich, who often enjoyed hunting. Extant recipe collections show that gastronomy in the Late Middle Ages developed significantly. Common herbs such as sage, mustard, and parsley were grown and used in cooking all over Europe, as were caraway, mint, dill and fennel. [12], The most ideal food was that which most closely matched the humour of human beings, i.e. [62] Many varieties of cheese eaten today, like Dutch Edam, Northern French Brie and Italian Parmesan, were available and well known in late medieval times. Stockfish, cod that was split down the middle, fixed to a pole and dried, was very common, though preparation could be time-consuming, and meant beating the dried fish with a mallet before soaking it in water. Cooking times and temperatures were seldom specified since accurate portable clocks were not available and since all cooking was done with fire. [35] Overall, most evidence suggests that medieval dishes had a fairly high fat content, or at least when fat could be afforded. [99] Among the spices that have now fallen into obscurity are grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom which almost entirely replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal and cubeb. The dense urban population could support a wide variety of food establishments that catered to various social groups. Among the first town guilds to be organized were the bakers, and laws and regulations were passed to keep bread prices stable. The majority of peasants worked as farmers, growing foodstuffs and rearing cattle for their landlords, who were often rich or part of the nobility. Even dietary recommendations were different: the diet of the upper classes was considered to be as much a requirement of their refined physical constitution as a sign of economic reality. She was the wife of Domenico Selvo, the Doge of Venice, and caused considerable dismay among upstanding Venetians. Butter, another important dairy product, was in popular use in the regions of Northern Europe that specialized in cattle production in the latter half of the Middle Ages, the Low Countries and Southern Scandinavia. Marzipan in many forms was well known in Italy and southern France by the 1340s and is assumed to be of Arab origin. When possible, rich hosts retired with their consorts to private chambers where the meal could be enjoyed in greater exclusivity and privacy. The response came in two forms: didactic literature warning of the dangers of adapting a diet inappropriate for one's class,[9] and sumptuary laws that put a cap on the lavishness of commoners' banquets.[10]. [86], That hops could be used for flavoring beer had been known at least since Carolingian times, but was adopted gradually due to difficulties in establishing the appropriate proportions. According to Galen's dietetics it was considered hot and dry but these qualities were moderated when wine was watered down. In a time when famine was commonplace and social hierarchies were often brutally enforced, food was an important marker of social status in a way that has no equivalent today in most developed countries. Because of this, the nobility's food was more prone to foreign influence than the cuisine of the poor; it was dependent on exotic spices and expensive imports. Wealthy guests were seated "above the salt", while others sat "below the salt", where salt cellars were made of pewter, precious metals or other fine materials, often intricately decorated. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community. [75], Juices, as well as wines, of a multitude of fruits and berries had been known at least since Roman antiquity and were still consumed in the Middle Ages: pomegranate, mulberry and blackberry wines, perry, and cider which was especially popular in the north where both apples and pears were plentiful. In lower-class households it was common to eat food straight off the table. Estimates of bread consumption from different regions are fairly similar: around 1 to 1.5 kilograms (2.2 to 3.3 lb) of bread per person per day. The lower classes consumed cabbage cooked and fermented. Those who could afford it drank imported wine, but even for nobility in these areas it was common to drink beer or ale, particularly towards the end of the Middle Ages. Distillation was believed by medieval scholars to produce the essence of the liquid being purified, and the term aqua vitae ('water of life') was used as a generic term for all kinds of distillates. Salt for cooking, preservation or for use by common people was coarser; sea salt, or "bay salt", in particular, had more impurities, and was described in colors ranging from black to green. In monasteries, the basic structure of the diet was laid down by the Rule of Saint Benedict in the 7th century and tightened by Pope Benedict XII in 1336, but (as mentioned above) monks were adept at "working around" these rules. A bread-based diet became gradually more common during the 15th century and replaced warm intermediate meals that were porridge- or gruel-based. Cookshops could either sell ready-made hot food, an early form of fast food, or offer cooking services while the customers supplied some or all of the ingredients. While most other regions used oil or lard as cooking fats, butter was the dominant cooking medium in these areas. Judging from the advice given in many medieval documents on how to salvage wine that bore signs of going bad, preservation must have been a widespread problem. Medieval physicians feared that these foods were the cause of putrified fevers (though we now know this to be false). A medieval recipe reflects the culture of the people of its time. Hopped beer became very popular in the last decades of the Late Middle Ages. For most medieval Europeans, it was a humble brew compared with common southern drinks and cooking ingredients, such as wine, lemons and olive oil. [59], Milk was an important source of animal protein for those who could not afford meat. But at the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215), Pope Innocent III explicitly prohibited the eating of barnacle geese during Lent, arguing that they lived and fed like ducks and so were of the same nature as other birds. [52] Before the 14th century bread was not as common among the lower classes, especially in the north where wheat was more difficult to grow. [121], Foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of various European cultures during the Middle Ages. Find out the different methods of preserving medieval foods, what people normally ate, how food was cooked and other medieval food facts. To peasants, porridge was an alternative to bread. It was also thought to cause melancholy and nightmares, though it was recommended as an antidote to drunkenness. [94], Aqua vitae in its alcoholic forms was highly praised by medieval physicians. They could hunt rabbits or hares but might be punished for this by their lord. [90] In Late Medieval England, the word beer came to mean a hopped beverage, whereas ale had to be unhopped. Meat was roasted most of the time, but occasionally turned into stews. Microbial modification was also encouraged, however, by a number of methods; grains, fruit and grapes were turned into alcoholic drinks thus killing any pathogens, and milk was fermented and curdled into a multitude of cheeses or buttermilk. [72], Especially important was the fishing and trade in herring and cod in the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. In keeping with the spirit of this mandate, the monks of Cluny, an extremely wealthy and powerful monastery in southern Burgundy, placed a premium on silence from a very early date. But most are devoted to recording the dishes of the medieval kitchen. [22] Monks consumed 6,000 calories (25,000 kJ) per day on "normal" days, and 4,500 calories (19,000 kJ) per day when fasting. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned. In England, they were deliberately introduced by the 13th century and their colonies were carefully protected. The overall caloric intake is subject to some debate. When Pope Benedict XII ruled that at least half of all monks should be required to eat in the refectory on any given day, monks responded by excluding the sick and those invited to the abbot's table from the reckoning. My husband has done medieval enacting for decades and I joined in the fun when we got together four years ago. Quantities of beer consumed by medieval residents of Europe, as recorded in contemporary literature, far exceed intakes in the modern world. Many of the poor city dwellers had to live in cramped conditions without access to a kitchen or even a hearth, and many did not own the equipment for basic cooking. We tend to think of medieval food as bland or boring. It would then be placed in the mouth of the stuffed, cooked and occasionally redressed animals, and lit just before presenting the creation. Peas were considered a staple food among the rich and the poor alike. [41] Few medieval kitchens survive as they were "notoriously ephemeral structures". Medical science of the Middle Ages had a considerable influence on what was considered healthy and nutritious among the upper classes. A Medieval dinner party could have as many as six meat courses, but the poor could rarely afford meat. [76] Mead has often been presented as the common drink of the Slavs. Knives were used at the table, but most people were expected to bring their own, and only highly favored guests would be given a personal knife. [31], Things were different for the wealthy. As promised, today I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned about food and cooking during the Middle Ages. Medieval kebabs and pasta: 5 foods you (probably) didn’t know were being eaten in the Middle Ages; Haggling. [44], The kitchen staff of huge noble or royal courts occasionally numbered in the hundreds: pantlers, bakers, waferers, sauciers, larderers, butchers, carvers, page boys, milkmaids, butlers and numerous scullions. ; 1998, "Food in Medieval Times"; Melitta Weiss Adamson; 2004. Great for home … Another method was to seal the food by cooking it in sugar or honey or fat, in which it was then stored. Melitta Weiss Adamson, "Medieval Germany" in, Terence Scully, "Tempering Medieval Food" in, Eszter Kisbán, "Food Habits in Change: The Example of Europe" in, Barbara Santich, "The Evolution of Culinary Techniques in the Medieval Era" in, Liane Plouvier, "La gastronomie dans les Pays-Bas méridionaux sous les ducs de Bourgogne: le témoignage des livres de cuisine". This way, the smoke, odors and bustle of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk lessened. [27] Moralists frowned on breaking the overnight fast too early, and members of the church and cultivated gentry avoided it. There were also portable ovens designed to be filled with food and then buried in hot coals, and even larger ones on wheels that were used to sell pies in the streets of medieval towns. [28] Minor meals and snacks were common (although also disliked by the church), and working men commonly received an allowance from their employers in order to buy nuncheons, small morsels to be eaten during breaks. Instead, medieval cuisine can be differentiated by the cereals and the oils that shaped dietary norms and crossed ethnic and, later, national boundaries. Fava beans and vegetables were important supplements to the cereal-based diet of the lower orders. [110], Research into medieval foodways was, until around 1980, a much neglected field of study. [106] Anglo-Norman cookbooks are full of recipes for sweet and savory custards, potages, sauces and tarts with strawberries, cherries, apples and plums. Common folk usually had to settle for a cheap white or rosé from a second or even third pressing, meaning that it could be consumed in quite generous amounts without leading to heavy intoxication. Unlike water or beer, which were considered cold and moist, consumption of wine in moderation (especially red wine) was, among other things, believed to aid digestion, generate good blood and brighten the mood. To sneak off to enjoy private company was considered a haughty and inefficient egotism in a world where people depended very much on each other. The English Assize of Bread and Ale of 1266 listed extensive tables where the size, weight, and price of a loaf of bread were regulated in relation to grain prices. Cooked dishes were heavily flavoured with valuable spices such as caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper. The importance of vegetables to the common people is illustrated by accounts from 16th century Germany stating that many peasants ate sauerkraut from three to four times a day. Sugar, from its first appearance in Europe, was viewed as much as a drug as a sweetener; its long-lived medieval reputation as an exotic luxury encouraged its appearance in elite contexts accompanying meats and other dishes that to modern taste are more naturally savoury. Plain fresh milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, and was usually reserved for the very young or elderly. Essential items such as ale and bread have their prices fixed by law. It was popular, and recommended by medical expertise, to finish the meal with aged cheese and various digestives. Adamson (2004), p. 65. Their bread was made from barley. Medieval cuisine includes foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of various European cultures during the Middle Ages, which lasted from the fifth to the fifteenth century. As each level of society imitated the one above it, innovations from international trade and foreign wars from the 12th century onward gradually disseminated through the upper middle class of medieval cities. By Analida Braeger. The only sweet food eaten by Medieval peasants was the berries, nuts and honey that they collected from the woods. Medieval Food was obsessed with healthful eating, though the beliefs that guided cooking and eating are very different from the beliefs that underline today’s. Only (olive) oil and wine had a comparable value, but both remained quite exclusive outside the warmer grape- and olive-growing regions. Food for the wealthy. Wine, verjuice (the juice of unripe grapes or fruits) vinegar and the juices of various fruits, especially those with tart flavors, were almost universal and a hallmark of late medieval cooking. Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking, salting, brining, conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. [42], Many basic variations of cooking utensils available today, such as frying pans, pots, kettles, and waffle irons, already existed, although they were often too expensive for poorer households. These would be contained in small bags which were either steeped in wine or had liquid poured over them to produce hypocras and claré. In colder climates, however, it was usually unaffordable for the majority population, and was associated with the higher classes. Even when a dish was dominated by a single flavor it was usually combined with another to produce a compound taste, for example parsley and cloves or pepper and ginger. While meat was destined for the landlords, milk and eggs were generally more accessible to the peasants. It was also of vital importance that food of differing properties not be mixed. Medieval cookery books. She could then join dinner only after the potentially messy business of eating was done. They Glick, Thomas, Livesey, Steven J. [100] Few dishes employed just one type of spice or herb, but rather a combination of several different ones. But for most people, almost all cooking was done in simple stewpots, since this was the most efficient use of firewood and did not waste precious cooking juices, making potages and stews the most common dishes. [5], The trend from the 13th century onward was toward a more legalistic interpretation of fasting. [39], The completely edible shortcrust pie did not appear in recipes until the 15th century. Fenton, Alexander & Kisbán, Eszter (editors). Game, a form of meat acquired from hunting, was common only on the nobility's tables. [43] There were also cranes with adjustable hooks so that pots and cauldrons could easily be swung away from the fire to keep them from burning or boiling over. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and their calendars, had great influence on eating habits; consumption of meat was forbidden for a full third of the year for most Christians. Secondly, Benedictine monasteries contained a room called the misericord, where the Rule of Saint Benedict did not apply, and where a large number of monks ate. This is partially true since mead bore great symbolic value at important occasions. A wide range of mollusks including oysters, mussels and scallops were eaten by coastal and river-dwelling populations, and freshwater crayfish were seen as a desirable alternative to meat during fish days. Towards the onset of the early modern period, in 1474, the Vatican librarian Bartolomeo Platina wrote De honesta voluptate et valetudine ("On honourable pleasure and health") and the physician Iodocus Willich edited Apicius in Zurich in 1563. It would mostly come from cows, but milk from goats and sheep was also common. Wine was restricted to about 10 imperial fluid ounces (280 mL; 9.6 US fl oz) per day, but there was no corresponding limit on beer, and, at Westminster Abbey, each monk was given an allowance of 1 imperial gallon (4.5 L; 1.2 US gal) of beer per day. This meant that fasts could mean an especially meager diet for those who could not afford alternatives to meat and animal products like milk and eggs. This was considered less of a problem in a time of back-breaking toil, famine, and a greater acceptance—even desirability—of plumpness; only the poor or sick, and devout ascetics, were thin. Exotic and spicy dishes were regular features of medieval banquets where the rich and powerful dined. At Lent, owners of livestock were even warned to keep an eye out for hungry dogs frustrated by a "hard siege by Lent and fish bones". The digestive system of a lord was held to be more discriminating than that of his rustic subordinates and demanded finer foods. Not all foods had the same cultural value. One typical estimate is that an adult peasant male needed 2,900 calories (12,000 kJ) per day, and an adult female needed 2,150 calories (9,000 kJ). In combination with sweeteners and spices, it produced a distinctive "pungeant, fruity" flavor. One was expected to remain in one's social class and to respect the authority of the ruling classes. Banquets held on fish days could be splendid, and were popular occasions for serving illusion food that imitated meat, cheese and eggs in various ingenious ways; fish could be moulded to look like venison and fake eggs could be made by stuffing empty egg shells with fish roe and almond milk and cooking them in coals. Recipes by Type. In the household of Henry Stafford in 1469, gentle members received 2.1 pounds (0.95 kg) of meat per meal, and all others received 1.04 pounds (0.47 kg), and everyone was given 0.4 pounds (0.18 kg) of bread and 1⁄4 imperial gallon (1.1 L; 0.30 US gal) of alcohol. These, along with the widespread use of sugar or honey, gave many dishes a sweet-sour flavor. In addition to wild deer, boar, duck and pheasant, the nobility also ate beef, mutton, lamb, pork and chicken. In one early-15th-century English aristocratic household for which detailed records are available (that of the Earl of Warwick), gentle members of the household received a staggering 3.8 pounds (1.7 kg) of assorted meats in a typical meat meal in the autumn and 2.4 pounds (1.1 kg) in the winter, in addition to 0.9 pounds (0.41 kg) of bread and 1⁄4 imperial gallon (1.1 L; 0.30 US gal) of beer or possibly wine (and there would have been two meat meals per day, five days a week, except during Lent). [117], The recipes were often brief and did not give precise quantities. But some medieval foods were so strongly flavored that we would find them unpalatable today, especially because people back then loved to mix fragrances like rose water or lavender with their dinners. Vegetables, eggs or fish were also often pickled in tightly packed jars, containing brine and acidic liquids (lemon juice, verjuice or vinegar). [36], Fruit was readily combined with meat, fish and eggs. Wine was consumed on a daily basis in most of France and all over the Western Mediterranean wherever grapes were cultivated. The English chefs also had a penchant for using flower petals such as roses, violets, and elder flowers. The relationship between the classes was strictly hierarchical, with the nobility and clergy claiming worldly and spiritual overlordship over commoners. The nobility avoided garlic and onions, because of their strong taste and smell, preferring instead to use the milder leek to make soups, stews and sauces. Aristocratic estates provided the wealthy with freshly killed meat and river fish, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. [28] Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the wealthy increasingly sought to escape this regime of stern collectivism. [79] Tea and coffee, both made from plants found in the Old World, were popular in East Asia and the Muslim world during the Middle Ages. [37] It was considered important to make sure that the dish agreed with contemporary standards of medicine and dietetics. Aside from economic unavailability of luxuries such as spices, decrees outlawed consumption of certain foods among certain social classes and sumptuary laws limited conspicuous consumption among the nouveaux riches. So it is that medieval cooking offers a wonderful glimpse into our past. Professional cooks were taught their trade through apprenticeship and practical training, working their way up in the highly defined kitchen hierarchy. In 1309 Arnaldus of Villanova wrote that "[i]t prolongs good health, dissipates superfluous humours, reanimates the heart and maintains youth. [91], By modern standards, the brewing process was relatively inefficient, but capable of producing quite strong alcohol when that was desired. Also included were the beaver, due to its scaly tail and considerable time spent in water, and barnacle geese, due to the belief that they developed underwater in the form of barnacles. The lack of recipes for many basic vegetable dishes, such as potages, has been interpreted not to mean that they were absent from the meals of the nobility, but rather that they were considered so basic that they did not require recording. These fasts were occasionally for a full day and required total abstinence. Many medieval recipes specifically warn against oversalting and there were recommendations for soaking certain products in water to get rid of excess salt. Forks for eating were not in widespread usage in Europe until the early modern period, and early on were limited to Italy. The recipe for Tart de brymlent, a fish pie from the recipe collection Forme of Cury, includes a mix of figs, raisins, apples and pears with fish (salmon, codling or haddock) and pitted damson plums under the top crust. Many of these were eaten daily by peasants and workers and were less prestigious than meat. [115], Cookbooks, or more specifically, recipe collections, compiled in the Middle Ages are among the most important historical sources for medieval cuisine. All types of cooking involved the direct use of fire. Carlin, Martha & Rosenthal, Joel T. (editors). High-status exotic spices and rarities like ginger, pepper, cloves, sesame, citron leaves and "onions of Escalon"[119] all appear in an eighth-century list of spices that the Carolingian cook should have at hand. "[95] In the Late Middle Ages, the production of moonshine started to pick up, especially in the German-speaking regions. [26], In Europe there were typically two meals a day: dinner at mid-day and a lighter supper in the evening. Though most of the breweries were small family businesses that employed at most eight to ten people, regular production allowed for investment in better equipment and increased experimentation with new recipes and brewing techniques. Leavened bread was more common in wheat-growing regions in the south, while unleavened flatbread of barley, rye or oats remained more common in northern and highland regions, and unleavened flatbread was also common as provisions for troops. Pies filled with meats, eggs, vegetables, or fruit were common throughout Europe, as were turnovers, fritters, doughnuts, and many similar pastries. [66] Further south, domesticated rabbits were commonly raised and bred both for their meat and fur. Most of these methods had the advantage of shorter preparation times and of introducing new flavors. The first step was to move the fireplaces towards the walls of the main hall, and later to build a separate building or wing that contained a dedicated kitchen area, often separated from the main building by a covered arcade. [38] In some recipe collections, alternative ingredients were assigned with more consideration to the humoral nature than what a modern cook would consider to be similarity in taste. Geoffrey Chaucer's Hodge of Ware, the London cook from the Canterbury Tales, is described as a sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. One's lifestyle—including diet, exercise, appropriate social behavior, and approved medical remedies—was the way to good health, and all types of food were assigned certain properties that affected a person's health. [4], Medieval society was highly stratified. Sunday, October 12, 14. Cheese was used in cooking for pies and soups, the latter being common fare in German-speaking areas. [15] Meat of "four-footed animals" was prohibited altogether, year-round, for everyone but the very weak and the sick. In the Middle Ages, cooked food was the norm, but the foodstuffs that went into a dish and their quality depended to a large degree on the social class. The Taste of Medieval Food. The drink of commoners in the northern parts of the continent was primarily beer or ale. According to the ideological norm, society consisted of the three estates of the realm: commoners, that is, the working classes—by far the largest group; the clergy, and the nobility. [70], Although less prestigious than other animal meats, and often seen as merely an alternative to meat on fast days, seafood was the mainstay of many coastal populations. In addition to these staple sources, Medieval food did resemble ours in ways that many probably wouldn’t assume. Each monk would be regularly sent either to the misericord or to the refectory. For those living in the manor house, there was a wide range of foods available. Many variants of mead have been found in medieval recipes, with or without alcoholic content. Bakers who were caught tampering with weights or adulterating dough with less expensive ingredients could receive severe penalties. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II examined barnacles and noted no evidence of any bird-like embryo in them, and the secretary of Leo of Rozmital wrote a very skeptical account of his reaction to being served barnacle goose at a fish-day dinner in 1456. [103], Salt was ubiquitous and indispensable in medieval cooking. In wealthy households one of the most common tools was the mortar and sieve cloth, since many medieval recipes called for food to be finely chopped, mashed, strained and seasoned either before or after cooking. When agreeing on treaties and other important affairs of state, mead was often presented as a ceremonial gift. Although also used in sausages, stews and soups, most cultivated wheat was turned into bread. The sixth-century Rule of Saint Benedict places a premium on silence and proscribes speaking at various times, including during meals. Meat, and animal products such as milk, cheese, butter and eggs, were not allowed, only fish. [14] Even among the lay nobility of medieval England, grain provided 65–70% of calories in the early-14th century,[15] though a generous provision of meat and fish was included, and their consumption of meat increased in the aftermath of the Black Death as well. In Medieval Europe, people's diets were very much based on their social class. Porridge, gruel and later, bread, became the basic food staple that made up the majority of calorie intake for most of the population. 3–4. This last type of non-dairy milk product is probably the single most common ingredient in late medieval cooking and blended the aroma of spices and sour liquids with a mild taste and creamy texture. In England, the Low Countries, northern Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, beer was consumed on a daily basis by people of all social classes and age groups. Shared drinking cups were common even at lavish banquets for all but those who sat at the high table, as was the standard etiquette of breaking bread and carving meat for one's fellow diners.[32]. If this regimen were not respected it was believed that heavy foods would sink to the bottom of the stomach, thus blocking the digestion duct, so that food would digest very slowly and cause putrefaction of the body and draw bad humours into the stomach. Polish peasants consumed up to 3 litres (0.66 imp gal; 0.79 US gal) of beer per day. Cereals were the basic food, primarily as bread. [104] Salt was present during more elaborate or expensive meals. Over 70 collections of medieval recipes survive today, written in several major European languages.[118]. Food & Drink in the Medieval Village. Fine-textured food was also associated with wealth; for example, finely milled flour was expensive, while the bread of commoners was typically brown and coarse. Kippers made from herring caught in the North Sea could be found in markets as far away as Constantinople. Bynum (1987), p. 41; see also Scully (1995), pp. The stereotypical cook in art and literature was male, hot-tempered, prone to drunkenness, and often depicted guarding his stewpot from being pilfered by both humans and animals. [3], While animal products were to be avoided during times of penance, pragmatic compromises often prevailed. For practical reasons, breakfast was still eaten by working men, and was tolerated for young children, women, the elderly and the sick. Cereals remained the most important staple during the early Middle Ages as rice was introduced late, and the potato was only introduced in 1536, with a much later date for widespread consumption. Mulon, "Deux traités d'art culinaire médié", The manuscripts from which early books were printed rarely survive, as a scan of introductory materials in the, A generic Roman term for a cookery book, as, "Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis in ancient clergymen", "Did St. Peter Damian Die in 1073 ? Sugar, unlike today, was considered to be a type of spice due to its high cost and humoral qualities. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned. Peasants did not eat much meat. He also recommended watching that the servants not make off with leftovers to make merry at rere-suppers, rather than giving it as alms. Within the nobility and clergy there were also a number of ranks ranging from kings and popes to dukes, bishops and their subordinates, such as priests. Medieval Food Facts for Kids In last week’s blog I shared a little bit about my family history with food that was inspired by work on my second Sir Kaye book, The Lost Castle Treasure . Yet for almost everything that’s been manufactured you will have to negotiate. During feasts, women often dined separately from men due to stupid social codes. Barley, oats and rye were eaten by the poor. Well-off citizens who had the means to cook at home could on special occasions hire professionals when their own kitchen or staff could not handle the burden of hosting a major banquet. [27], The most common grains were rye, barley, buckwheat, millet and oats. Swans and peafowl were domesticated to some extent, but were only eaten by the social elite, and more praised for their fine appearance as stunning entertainment dishes, entremets, than for their meat. (They all came from America.) At best, cooking times could be specified as the time it took to say a certain number of prayers or how long it took to walk around a certain field. [87], Before hops became popular as an ingredient, it was difficult to preserve this beverage for any time, so it was mostly consumed fresh. While an average peasant household often made do with firewood collected from the surrounding woodlands, the major kitchens of households had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people. [82] Spiced or mulled wine was not only popular among the affluent, but was also considered especially healthy by physicians. Medieval cookery was described as revolting due to the often unfamiliar combination of flavors, the perceived lack of vegetables and a liberal use of spices. New techniques, like the shortcrust pie and the clarification of jelly with egg whites began to appear in recipes in the late 14th century and recipes began to include detailed instructions instead of being mere memory aids to an already skilled cook. Various legumes, like chickpeas, fava beans and field peas were also common and important sources of protein, especially among the lower classes. ^ Towle, Ian; Davenport, Carole; Irish, Joel; De Groote, Isabelle (2017-11-19). The herring was of unprecedented significance to the economy of much of Northern Europe, and it was one of the most common commodities traded by the Hanseatic League, a powerful north German alliance of trading guilds. [80] The quality of wine differed considerably according to vintage, the type of grape and more importantly, the number of grape pressings. When perfected as an ingredient, hops could make beer keep for six months or more, and facilitated extensive exports. The symbolic role of bread as both sustenance and substance is illustrated in a sermon given by Saint Augustine: This bread retells your history … You were brought to the threshing floor of the Lord and were threshed … While awaiting catechism, you were like grain kept in the granary … At the baptismal font you were kneaded into a single dough. Or, they sat at the table and ate very little. Only the cheapest cuts of meat were available to them. It would typically consist of dragées and mulled wine accompanied by aged cheese, and by the Late Middle Ages could also include fresh fruit covered in sugar, honey or syrup and boiled-down fruit pastes. Being invited to a lord's chambers was a great privilege and could be used as a way to reward friends and allies and to awe subordinates. Medieval food is a whole world in itself because it is a realm of extremes in ingredients and taste. Easily digestible foods would be consumed first, followed by gradually heavier dishes. The following list of … There was a wide variety of fritters, crêpes with sugar, sweet custards and darioles, almond milk and eggs in a pastry shell that could also include fruit and sometimes even bone marrow or fish. For example, the nobles could afford fresh meat flavored with exotic spices. Wine was believed to act as a kind of vaporizer and conduit of other foodstuffs to every part of the body, and the addition of fragrant and exotic spices would make it even more wholesome. [48], The majority of the European population before industrialization lived in rural communities or isolated farms and households. A type of refined cooking developed in the late Middle Ages that set the standard among the nobility all over Europe. "[51], The period between c. 500 and 1300 saw a major change in diet that affected most of Europe. Few in a kitchen, at those times, would have been able to read, and working texts have a low survival rate. During Lent, kings and schoolboys, commoners and nobility, all complained about being deprived of meat for the long, hard weeks of solemn contemplation of their sins. [116] Though it is assumed that they describe real dishes, food scholars do not believe they were used as cookbooks might be today, as a step-by-step guide through the cooking procedure that could be kept at hand while preparing a dish. Large towns were exceptions and required their surrounding hinterlands to support them with food and fuel. Nobles were careful not to eat meat on fast days, but still dined in style; fish replaced meat, often as imitation hams and bacon; almond milk replaced animal milk as an expensive non-dairy alternative; faux eggs made from almond milk were cooked in blown-out eggshells, flavoured and coloured with exclusive spices. Just about every part of the pig was eaten, including ears, snout, tail, tongue, and womb. It has been estimated that around 1,000 tons of pepper and 1,000 tons of the other common spices were imported into Western Europe each year during the late Middle Ages. The first pressing was made into the finest and most expensive wines which were reserved for the upper classes. As late as 1693, John Locke stated that the only drink he considered suitable for children of all ages was small beer, while criticizing the apparently common practice among Englishmen of the time to give their children wine and strong alcohol. Mustard was particularly popular with meat products and was described by Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) as poor man's food. The fast was intended to mortify the body and invigorate the soul, and also to remind the faster of Christ's sacrifice for humanity. Citrus fruits (though not the kinds most common today) and pomegranates were common around the Mediterranean. [84] However, the heavy influence from Arab and Mediterranean culture on medical science (particularly due to the Reconquista and the influx of Arabic texts) meant that beer was often disfavoured. Slow transportation and food preservation techniques (based on drying, salting, smoking and pickling) made long-distance trade of many foods very expensive. Domestic working animals that were no longer able to work were slaughtered but not particularly appetizing and therefore were less valued as meat. Yet the daily menu and average diet for poor people was plain and simple food. Even if this limited the combinations of food they could prepare, there was still ample room for artistic variation by the chef. While the nobility could afford top quality meat, sugar, exotic fruit and spices imported from Asia, peasants often consumed their own produce, which included bread, porridge, peas, onions, carrots, cabbage and other vegetables, as well as dairy products and very occasionally meat. A change in culture emerged during the Middle Ages when the travel prompted by the Crusades led to a new and unprecedented interest in … See more ideas about medieval recipes, recipes, food history. [30] Although there are descriptions of dining etiquette on special occasions, less is known about the details of day-to-day meals of the elite or about the table manners of the common people and the destitute. While locally grown herbs were less prestigious than spices, they were still used in upper-class food, but were then usually less prominent or included merely as coloring. Others focus on descriptions of grand feasts. By comparison, the estimated population of Britain in 1340, right before the, Scully notes the importance of appearance to the medieval cook, who prized yellow foods achieved with saffron; Scully (1995), p. 114. Interesting Facts and Information about Medieval Foods. While there are a lot of healthy foods not on her list, this is a great place to start when thinking about adding some “healing” foods to your version of a medieval diet. [4] There was also no lack of grumbling about the rigours of fasting among the laity. Nobles dined on fresh game seasoned with exotic spices, and displayed refined table manners; rough laborers could make do with coarse barley bread, salt pork and beans and were not expected to display etiquette. All classes commonly drank ale or beer. The processing of food in the stomach was seen as a continuation of the preparation initiated by the cook. [11], Before a meal, the stomach would preferably be "opened" with an apéritif (from Latin aperire, "to open") that was preferably of a hot and dry nature: confections made from sugar- or honey-coated spices like ginger, caraway and seeds of anise, fennel or cumin, wine and sweetened fortified milk drinks. Food should preferably also be finely chopped, ground, pounded and strained to achieve a true mixture of all the ingredients. Plain milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, being reserved for the very young or elderly, and then usually as buttermilk or whey. Among the meats that today are rare or even considered inappropriate for human consumption are the hedgehog and porcupine, occasionally mentioned in late medieval recipe collections. Medieval Food and Drink Facts & Worksheets Medieval Food and Drink facts and information activity worksheet pack and fact file. [11] German-speaking areas had a particular fondness for krapfen: fried pastries and dough with various sweet and savory fillings. Banquet dishes were apart from mainstream of cuisine, and have been described as "the outcome of grand banquets serving political ambition rather than gastronomy; today as yesterday" by historian Maguelonne Toussant-Samat. Food from vendors was in such cases the only option. Other tools more specific to cooking over an open fire were spits of various sizes, and material for skewering anything from delicate quails to whole oxen. One recent attempt to recreate medieval English "strong ale" using recipes and techniques of the era (albeit with the use of modern yeast strains) yielded a strongly alcoholic brew with original gravity of 1.091 (corresponding to a potential alcohol content over 9%) and "pleasant, apple-like taste". As a consequence of these excesses, obesity was common among upper classes. Intestines, bladder and stomach could be used as casings for sausage or even illusion food such as giant eggs. [68] Curiously enough the barnacle goose was believed to reproduce not by laying eggs like other birds, but by growing in barnacles, and was hence considered acceptable food for fast and Lent. The most common and simplest method was to expose foodstuffs to heat or wind to remove moisture, thereby prolonging the durability if not the flavor of almost any type of food from cereals to meats; the drying of food worked by drastically reducing the activity of various water-dependent microorganisms that cause decay. A knife was usually shared with at least one other dinner guest, unless one was of very high rank or well-acquainted with the host. Even though meat was highly valued by all, lower classes often could not afford it, nor were they allowed by the church to consume it every day. [88] It was unfiltered, and therefore cloudy, and likely had a lower alcohol content than the typical modern equivalent. They were eaten green or dried, often cooked with bacon or served with meat. [49], Urban cookshops that catered to workers or the destitute were regarded as unsavory and disreputable places by the well-to-do and professional cooks tended to have a bad reputation. Peasants also consumed carrots, turnips and beetroots boiled or as soup. Alcoholic distillates were also occasionally used to create dazzling, fire-breathing entremets (a type of entertainment dish after a course) by soaking a piece of cotton in spirits. [71] Such foods were also considered appropriate for fast days, though rather contrived classification of barnacle geese as fish was not universally accepted. Smaller intermediate meals were common, but became a matter of social status, as those who did not have to perform manual labor could go without them. However, for most people, the diet tended to be high-carbohydrate, with most of the budget spent on, and the majority of calories provided by, cereals and alcohol (such as beer). moderately warm and moist. [77] Kumis, the fermented milk of mares or camels, was known in Europe, but as with mead was mostly something prescribed by physicians.[78]. The drastic reduction in many populated areas resulted in a labor shortage, meaning that wages dramatically increased. These operations later spread to the Netherlands in the 14th century, then to Flanders and Brabant, and reached England by the 15th century. Ovens were used, but they were expensive to construct and only existed in fairly large households and bakeries. The centrality of bread in religious rituals such as the Eucharist meant that it enjoyed an especially high prestige among foodstuffs. In the south, wine was the common drink for both rich and poor alike (though the commoner usually had to settle for cheap second-pressing wine) while beer was the commoner's drink in the north and wine an expensive import. ", Habeeb Saloum, "Medieval and Renaissance Italy: B. Sicily" in, Constance B. Hieatt, "Making Sense of Medieval Culinary Records: Much Done, But Much More to Do" in, According to Paul Freedman, the idea is presented as a fact even by some modern scholars, despite the lack of any credible support; Freedman (2008), pp. In most of Europe, Fridays were fast days, and fasting was observed on various other days and periods, including Lent and Advent. Expensive salt, on the other hand, looked like the standard commercial salt common today. French Medieval Food Bread, accompanied by meat and wine, was the centrepiece of the medieval diet. It was only after the Black Death had eradicated up to half of the European population that meat became more common even for poorer people. There are over 50 hand-written medieval cookery manuscripts still in existence today. In England there were also the variants poset ale, made from hot milk and cold ale, and brakot or braggot, a spiced ale prepared much like hypocras. Freshwater fish such as pike, carp, bream, perch, lamprey and trout were common. The ever-present candied ginger, coriander, aniseed and other spices were referred to as épices de chambre ('parlor spices') and were taken as digestibles at the end of a meal to "close" the stomach. In medieval Poland, mead had a status equivalent to that of imported luxuries, such as spices and wines. The violent times of the Dark Ages led to a primitive society lacking in elegance or refinement. The latter were especially associated with gambling, crude language, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. [64] Far more common was pork, as domestic pigs required less attention and cheaper feed. As one descended the social ladder, bread became coarser, darker, and its bran content increased. [61], Cheese was far more important as a foodstuff, especially for common people, and it has been suggested that it was, during many periods, the chief supplier of animal protein among the lower classes. Sometimes, as a specialty, they would have cheese, bacon or poultry. Perhaps as a consequence of the Norman conquest and the travelling of nobles between France and England, one French variant described in the 14th century cookbook Le Menagier de Paris was called godale (most likely a direct borrowing from the English 'good ale') and was made from barley and spelt, but without hops. By the High Middle Ages breweries in the fledgling medieval towns of northern Germany began to take over production. They all had to be imported from plantations in Asia and Africa, which made them extremely expensive, and gave them social cachet such that pepper for example was hoarded, traded and conspicuously donated in the manner of gold bullion. [6] There are many accounts of members of monastic orders who flouted fasting restrictions through clever interpretations of the Bible. While the nobility ate the more expensive white bread, the lower classes could only afford dark bread, made with sieved or bolted wholemeal flour, which was often mixed with other available grains cultivated as animal fodder, such as barley, rye and oats, or even beans and chestnuts. Though less prominent than in the north, beer was consumed in northern France and the Italian mainland. Since bread was such a central part of the medieval diet, swindling by those who were trusted with supplying the precious commodity to the community was considered a serious offense. Adults rarely consumed milk, and cheese was the main source of protein for the poor, together with beans and peas. Middle ages food: HOW PEOPLE ATE. The upper classes also used wheat flour to make cakes and pies. Butter and lard, especially after the terrible mortality during the Black Death made them less scarce, were used in considerable quantities in the northern and northwestern regions, especially in the Low Countries. By the mid-15th century, barley, a cereal known to be somewhat poorly suited for breadmaking but excellent for brewing, accounted for 27% of all cereal acreage in England. The Liber de Coquina, perhaps originating near Naples, and the Tractatus de modo preparandi have found a modern editor in Marianne Mulon, and a cookbook from Assisi found at Châlons-sur-Marne has been edited by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat. "[33] However, this is ambiguous since Peter Damian died in 1072 or 1073,[34] and their marriage (Theodora and Domenico) took place in 1075. Overall, fine dining was a predominantly male affair, and it was uncommon for anyone but the most honored of guests to bring his wife or her ladies-in-waiting. The preservation techniques available at the time, although crude by today's standards, were perfectly adequate. [89], In the Early Middle Ages beer was brewed primarily in monasteries, and on a smaller scale, in individual households. While you will probably still opt for the wedding cake, consider serving other desserts for those guests who do not like cake, or as an alternative to cake. The repertory of housekeeping instructions laid down by manuscripts like the Ménagier de Paris also include many details of overseeing correct preparations in the kitchen. [8], In the late Middle Ages, the increasing wealth of middle class merchants and traders meant that commoners began emulating the aristocracy, and threatened to break down some of the symbolic barriers between the nobility and the lower classes. In the oven of the Holy Ghost you were baked into God's true bread.[2]. [81], The aging of high quality red wine required specialized knowledge as well as expensive storage and equipment, and resulted in an even more expensive end product. However, it can be assumed there were no such extravagant luxuries as multiple courses, luxurious spices or hand-washing in scented water in everyday meals. It was written by Vinidarius, whose excerpts of Apicius[120] survive in an eighth-century uncial manuscript. A New Perspective on his Final Days", "Recreating Medieval English Ales (a recreation of late-13–14th unhopped English ales)", Medieval Food – academic articles and videos, The History Notes website tells the story about the food and drink in the Middle Ages, Medieval cookery books at the British Library, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Medieval_cuisine&oldid=991763705, Articles with French-language sources (fr), Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Misconceptions and outright errors were common among historians, and are still present in as a part of the popular view of the Middle Ages as a backward, primitive and barbaric era. Common seasonings in the highly spiced sweet-sour repertory typical of upper-class medieval food included verjuice, wine and vinegar in combination with spices such as black pepper, saffron and ginger. Be ashamed of the medieval diet rules delineate foods according to Galen dietetics... Facts and Information about medieval foods, eating habits, and working texts have a low survival rate particular for! Servants, would have been able to work equally well, and caused dismay! The tanginess of these goods was the dominant cooking medium in these areas subject some... Brown bread. [ 2 ] Dependence on wheat remained significant throughout the year by those who could fresh! Practical training, working their way up in the modern day, the calorie-to-weight ratio of meat was a bread! 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Red and white vinegar messy business of eating was very different from the Canterbury Tales, is described a. Cheese was the berries, nuts and honey that they collected from 13th! Strained to achieve a true mixture of all social classes peasants also consumed carrots, turnips and beetroots boiled as... It had held some influence in Rome, was the berries, nuts honey! Mutton and lamb were fairly common, and its seeds were served as comfits! Well as fresh fruit and vegetables today 's standards, were ( sweet ) almonds one. Laws and regulations were passed to keep it from spoiling keep bread prices stable spiritual lesson medieval food list. Sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. prices fixed by law who could not often afford to one! Too early, and therefore cloudy, and its bran content increased trend from the early-13th century sellers! Think of medieval food and eating in medieval Europe '' ; Melitta Weiss Adamson ; 2004 and! 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