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. In the 13th century, English bishop Robert Grosseteste advised the Countess of Lincoln: "forbid dinners and suppers out of hall, in secret and in private rooms, for from this arises waste and no honour to the lord and lady." Instead, medieval cuisine can be differentiated by the cereals and the oils that shaped dietary norms and crossed ethnic and, later, national boundaries. The Menu: Sweets. Meat, and animal products such as milk, cheese, butter and eggs, were not allowed, only fish. For practical reasons, breakfast was still eaten by working men, and was tolerated for young children, women, the elderly and the sick. Dried figs and dates were available in the north, but were used rather sparingly in cooking. As today, geese and ducks had been domesticated but were not as popular as the chicken, the poultry equivalent of the pig. 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). A bread-based diet became gradually more common during the 15th century and replaced warm intermediate meals that were porridge- or gruel-based. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned. Fava beans and vegetables were important supplements to the cereal-based diet of the lower orders. My husband has done medieval enacting for decades and I joined in the fun when we got together four years ago. We tend to think of medieval food as bland or boring. 72, 191–92. Even if vinegar was a common ingredient, there was only so much of it that could be used. Food for the wealthy.  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.  Meat of "four-footed animals" was prohibited altogether, year-round, for everyone but the very weak and the sick. 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.  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. 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. Beef was not as common as today because raising cattle was labor-intensive, requiring pastures and feed, and oxen and cows were much more valuable as draught animals and for producing milk. The vegetable was not common in the upper circles as it was considered a "peasant's food." The baker's profit margin stipulated in the tables was later increased through successful lobbying from the London Baker's Company by adding the cost of everything from firewood and salt to the baker's wife, house, and dog. 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. , 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. It was also of vital importance that food of differing properties not be mixed.  Overall, most evidence suggests that medieval dishes had a fairly high fat content, or at least when fat could be afforded. Meat was a staple food among the rich, who often enjoyed hunting.  There was also no lack of grumbling about the rigours of fasting among the laity. 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. 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. 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.  There are many accounts of members of monastic orders who flouted fasting restrictions through clever interpretations of the Bible. By Analida Braeger. Wheat was common all over Europe and was considered to be the most nutritious of all grains, but was more prestigious and thus more expensive. Great for home … Anise was used to flavor fish and chicken dishes, and its seeds were served as sugar-coated comfits. Pies filled with meats, eggs, vegetables, or fruit were common throughout Europe, as were turnovers, fritters, doughnuts, and many similar pastries. Slow transportation and food preservation techniques (based on drying, salting, smoking and pickling) made long-distance trade of many foods very expensive. 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). 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. Cooked dishes were heavily flavoured with valuable spices such as caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper. 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. In addition to these staple sources, Medieval food did resemble ours in ways that many probably wouldn’t assume. 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. Intakes of aristocrats may have reached 4,000 to 5,000 calories (17,000 to 21,000 kJ) per day. Even there it was not until the 14th century that the fork became common among Italians of all social classes. Members of the lower class and peasants had to settle for salted pork and barley bread.  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. 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). Utensils were often held directly over the fire or placed into embers on tripods. Only the cheapest cuts of meat were available to them. 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 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. Meat was roasted most of the time, but occasionally turned into stews. The upper classes also ate cheese, but preferred types that were very salty and aged. See also, Le Ménagier de Paris, p.218, "Pour Faire une Tourte. 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. Common herbs such as sage, mustard, and parsley were grown and used in cooking all over Europe, as were caraway, mint, dill and fennel. Lavish dinner banquets and late-night reresopers (from Occitan rèire-sopar, "late supper") with considerable amounts of alcoholic beverage were considered immoral.  Carrots were available in many variants during the Middle Ages: among them a tastier reddish-purple variety and a less prestigious green-yellow type. The following list of … 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. 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". , The common method of grinding and mashing ingredients into pastes and the many potages and sauces has been used as an argument that most adults within the medieval nobility lost their teeth at an early age, and hence were forced to eat nothing but porridge, soup and ground-up meat. 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. 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. Hildegard’s medieval diet rules delineate foods according to their “healing” capabilities. While wine was the most common table beverage in much of Europe, this was not the case in the northern regions where grapes were not cultivated. In addition to wild deer, boar, duck and pheasant, the nobility also ate beef, mutton, lamb, pork and chicken.  The quality of wine differed considerably according to vintage, the type of grape and more importantly, the number of grape pressings. In colder climates, however, it was usually unaffordable for the majority population, and was associated with the higher classes. 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. Recipes by Type. Find out the different methods of preserving medieval foods, what people normally ate, how food was cooked and other medieval food facts. Lent was a challenge; the game was to ferret out the loopholes. Cookbooks, which appeared in the late Middle Ages and were intended mostly for those who could afford such luxuries, contained only a small number of recipes using vegetables as the main ingredient. During this period, diets and cooking changed less than they did in the early modern period that followed, when those changes helped lay the foundations for modern European cuisine. Another common sight at the medieval dinner table was the frumenty, a thick wheat porridge often boiled in a meat broth and seasoned with spices. Mutton and lamb were fairly common, especially in areas with a sizeable wool industry, as was veal. Or, they sat at the table and ate very little. , The trend from the 13th century onward was toward a more legalistic interpretation of fasting. Sugar, unlike today, was considered to be a type of spice due to its high cost and humoral qualities. The latter were especially associated with gambling, crude language, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. Bread consumption was high in most of Western Europe by the 14th century. Both the Eastern and the Western churches ordained that feast should alternate with fast. Wine was commonly drunk and was also regarded as the most prestigious and healthy choice. , While in modern times, water is often drunk with a meal, in the Middle Ages, however, concerns over purity, medical recommendations and its low prestige value made it less favored, and alcoholic beverages were preferred. Medieval drinks that have survived to this day include prunellé from wild plums (modern-day slivovitz), mulberry gin and blackberry wine. Their bread was made from barley. , Things were different for the wealthy. Milk was also available, but usually reserved for younger people. , In the Early Middle Ages beer was brewed primarily in monasteries, and on a smaller scale, in individual households. Various legumes, like chickpeas, fava beans and field peas were also common and important sources of protein, especially among the lower classes. Sunday, October 12, 14. Fresh milk was overall less common than other dairy products because of the lack of technology to keep it from spoiling. Polish peasants consumed up to 3 litres (0.66 imp gal; 0.79 US gal) of beer per day. 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.  Monks, especially, frequently suffered from obesity-related (in some cases) conditions such as arthritis. 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. 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. In order for the food to be properly "cooked" and for the nutrients to be properly absorbed, it was important that the stomach be filled in an appropriate manner. By the 13th century, Hausbrand (literally 'home-burnt' from gebrannter wein, brandwein 'burnt [distilled] wine') was commonplace, marking the origin of brandy. Medieval food is a whole world in itself because it is a realm of extremes in ingredients and taste. The richer the host, and the more prestigious the guest, the more elaborate would be the container in which it was served and the higher the quality and price of the salt. The sixth-century Rule of Saint Benedict places a premium on silence and proscribes speaking at various times, including during meals. The first pressing was made into the finest and most expensive wines which were reserved for the upper classes. The Ancient Greek belief in Dietetics, though it had held some influence in Rome, was zealously revived in the Middle Ages.  While large quantities of fish were eaten fresh, a large proportion was salted, dried, and, to a lesser extent, smoked. A change in culture emerged during the Middle Ages when the travel prompted by the Crusades led to a new and unprecedented interest in … Medieval kebabs and pasta: 5 foods you (probably) didn’t know were being eaten in the Middle Ages; Haggling. The majority of peasants worked as farmers, growing foodstuffs and rearing cattle for their landlords, who were often rich or part of the nobility. These, along with the widespread use of sugar or honey, gave many dishes a sweet-sour flavor. 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. , As with almost every part of life at the time, a medieval meal was generally a communal affair. 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. 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. 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. Social norms also dictated that the food of the working class be less refined, since it was believed there was a natural resemblance between one's labour and one's food; manual labour required coarser, cheaper food. , Especially important was the fishing and trade in herring and cod in the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. 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. 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. , The majority of the European population before industrialization lived in rural communities or isolated farms and households. , The caloric content and structure of medieval diet varied over time, from region to region, and between classes. While Byzantine church officials took a hard-line approach, and discouraged any culinary refinement for the clergy, their Western counterparts were far more lenient. Kippers made from herring caught in the North Sea could be found in markets as far away as Constantinople. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned. , The recipes were often brief and did not give precise quantities. , By modern standards, the brewing process was relatively inefficient, but capable of producing quite strong alcohol when that was desired. Marzipan in many forms was well known in Italy and southern France by the 1340s and is assumed to be of Arab origin. By the High Middle Ages breweries in the fledgling medieval towns of northern Germany began to take over production. , Surviving medieval recipes frequently call for flavoring with a number of sour, tart liquids. 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. 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. 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. Expensive salt, on the other hand, looked like the standard commercial salt common today. Equally common, and used to complement the tanginess of these ingredients, were (sweet) almonds. From the 8th to the 11th centuries, the proportion of various cereals in the diet rose from about a third to three quarters. ", The period between c. 500 and 1300 saw a major change in diet that affected most of Europe.  Few medieval kitchens survive as they were "notoriously ephemeral structures". As one descended the social ladder, bread became coarser, darker, and its bran content increased. 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. Adamson (2004), p. 65. The Taste of Medieval Food. 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. Towards the end of the Late Middle Ages, the consumption of spirits became so ingrained even among the general population that restrictions on sales and production began to appear in the late-15th century. The relationship between the classes was strictly hierarchical, with the nobility and clergy claiming worldly and spiritual overlordship over commoners. , Meats were more expensive than plant foods. , The completely edible shortcrust pie did not appear in recipes until the 15th century. 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 . Before that the pastry was primarily used as a cooking container in a technique known as huff paste. 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. Oats… 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.  Spiced or mulled wine was not only popular among the affluent, but was also considered especially healthy by physicians.  German-speaking areas had a particular fondness for krapfen: fried pastries and dough with various sweet and savory fillings. This was based on a belief among physicians that the finer the consistency of food, the more effectively the body would absorb the nourishment. Porridge, gruel and later, bread, became the basic food staple that made up the majority of calorie intake for most of the population. 46–7; Johanna Maria van Winter, "The Low Countries in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries" in, Simon Varey, "Medieval and Renaissance Italy, A. The norm was self-sufficiency with only a small percentage of production being exported or sold in markets. The most prevalent butcher's meats were pork, chicken and other domestic fowl; beef, which required greater investment in land, was less common. 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. Medieval food is a big part of the feasting at our house, especially the slow-roasted meats, homemade cheeses, sausages, and breads. , Common herbs such as sage, mustard, and parsley were grown and used in cooking all over Europe, as were caraway, mint, dill and fennel. Intestines, bladder and stomach could be used as casings for sausage or even illusion food such as giant eggs. Fish was up to 16 times as costly, and was expensive even for coastal populations. However, neither of these non-alcoholic social drinks were consumed in Europe before the late-16th and early-17th centuries. Medieval cookery books. Dec 25, 2015 - Explore Octavia Randolph's board "Medieval Food Recipes", followed by 1634 people on Pinterest.  The heavy use of spices has been popular as an argument to support the claim that spices were employed to disguise the flavor of spoiled meat, a conclusion without support in historical fact and contemporary sources. According to Galen's dietetics it was considered hot and dry but these qualities were moderated when wine was watered down. Farther north, apples, pears, plums, and wild strawberries were more common. The entire household, including servants, would ideally dine together. The regional cuisines of medieval Europe were the results of differences in climate, seasonal food variations, political administration and religious customs that varied across the continent. Plain fresh milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, and was usually reserved for the very young or elderly.  Chiquart recommends that the chief cook should have at hand at least 1,000 cartloads of "good, dry firewood" and a large barnful of coal. , Foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of various European cultures during the Middle Ages. Interesting Facts and Information about Medieval Foods. Medieval Food. Egg yolks were considered to be warm and moist while the whites were cold and moist. 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. Hopped beer became very popular in the last decades of the Late Middle Ages. 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.  Monks consumed 6,000 calories (25,000 kJ) per day on "normal" days, and 4,500 calories (19,000 kJ) per day when fasting. 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. Glick, Thomas, Livesey, Steven J. It also left vast areas of farmland untended, making it available for pasture and putting more meat on the market. This gave rise to the "baker's dozen": a baker would give 13 for the price of 12, to be certain of not being known as a cheat. A type of refined cooking developed in the late Middle Ages that set the standard among the nobility all over Europe. 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. Almonds were very popular as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces, particularly as almond milk. , Cookbooks, or more specifically, recipe collections, compiled in the Middle Ages are among the most important historical sources for medieval cuisine. In 1256, the Sienese physician Aldobrandino described beer in the following way: But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth, it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one's flesh white and smooth.  Newly assigned Catholic monastery officials sought to amend the problem of fast evasion not merely with moral condemnations, but by making sure that well-prepared non-meat dishes were available on fast days. 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. 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. , Fruit was readily combined with meat, fish and eggs. Those engaged in particularly heavy physical labor, as well as sailors and soldiers, may have consumed 3,500 calories (15,000 kJ) or more per day. Wheat was widely cultivated across Medieval Europe. Few in a kitchen, at those times, would have been able to read, and working texts have a low survival rate. The drastic reduction in many populated areas resulted in a labor shortage, meaning that wages dramatically increased.  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. High-status exotic spices and rarities like ginger, pepper, cloves, sesame, citron leaves and "onions of Escalon" all appear in an eighth-century list of spices that the Carolingian cook should have at hand. While medieval foods weren't so different from the meals we eat today – think bread, porridge, pasta and vegetables for the poor and meat and spices for the rich – the way it was prepared often differed greatly from the way we prepare our food today.  Before the 14th century bread was not as common among the lower classes, especially in the north where wheat was more difficult to grow. They were of particular value for monasteries, because newborn rabbits were allegedly declared fish (or, at least, not-meat) by the church and therefore they could be eaten during Lent. , Food preservation methods were basically the same as had been used since antiquity, and did not change much until the invention of canning in the early-19th century. A medieval cook employed in a large household would most likely have been able to plan and produce a meal without the help of recipes or written instruction. In lower-class households it was common to eat food straight off the table. Everyday food for the poor in the Middle Ages consisted of cabbage, beans, eggs, oats and brown bread. In Medieval Europe, people's diets were very much based on their social class. 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 only sweet food eaten by Medieval peasants was the berries, nuts and honey that they collected from the woods. 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".  Anglo-Norman cookbooks are full of recipes for sweet and savory custards, potages, sauces and tarts with strawberries, cherries, apples and plums. 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. It was written by Vinidarius, whose excerpts of Apicius survive in an eighth-century uncial manuscript. In a recipe for quince pie, cabbage is said to work equally well, and in another turnips could be replaced by pears. , In most households, cooking was done on an open hearth in the middle of the main living area, to make efficient use of the heat. 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. 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.  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. Though rich in protein, the calorie-to-weight ratio of meat was less than that of plant food. 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.  Further south, domesticated rabbits were commonly raised and bred both for their meat and fur. Just like Montpellier, Sicily was once famous for its comfits, nougat candy (torrone, or turrón in Spanish) and almond clusters (confetti). Exotic and spicy dishes were regular features of medieval banquets where the rich and powerful dined. , 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. , While all forms of wild game were popular among those who could obtain it, most meat came from domestic animals. The foreign consort's insistence on having her food cut up by her eunuch servants and then eating the pieces with a golden fork shocked and upset the diners so much that there was a claim that Peter Damian, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, later interpreted her refined foreign manners as pride and referred to her as "...the Venetian Doge's wife, whose body, after her excessive delicacy, entirely rotted away. In most of Europe, Fridays were fast days, and fasting was observed on various other days and periods, including Lent and Advent. ; 1998, "Food in Medieval Times"; Melitta Weiss Adamson; 2004.  In Late Medieval England, the word beer came to mean a hopped beverage, whereas ale had to be unhopped.  Moralists frowned on breaking the overnight fast too early, and members of the church and cultivated gentry avoided it. Kitchen stoves did not appear until the 18th century, and cooks had to know how to cook directly over an open fire.  Far more common was pork, as domestic pigs required less attention and cheaper feed. The upper classes also used wheat flour to make cakes and pies. Before the meal and between courses, shallow basins and linen towels were offered to guests so they could wash their hands, as cleanliness was emphasized. This was circumvented in part by declaring that offal, and various processed foods such as bacon, were not meat. Many variants of mead have been found in medieval recipes, with or without alcoholic content.  The diet of the lord of the household differed somewhat from this structure, including less red meat, more high-quality wild game, fresh fish, fruit, and wine.. The choice of ingredients may have been limited, but that did not mean that meals were smaller. Meat Dishes - Beef. And in Medieval feasts, an art-form The Medieval poor mostly ate pottage - basically cabbage soup with some barley or oats. For most medieval Europeans, it was a humble brew compared with common southern drinks and cooking ingredients, such as wine, lemons and olive oil. Skilled cooks were expected to conform to the regimen of humoral medicine. Salting and drying was the most common form of food preservation and meant that fish and meat in particular were often heavily salted. Even if this limited the combinations of food they could prepare, there was still ample room for artistic variation by the chef. , Salt was ubiquitous and indispensable in medieval cooking. Dietary and behavioral inferences from dental pathology and non-masticatory wear on dentitions from a British medieval town. Before the widespread use of hops, gruit, a mix of various herbs, had been used. 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.  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. 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. The processing of food in the stomach was seen as a continuation of the preparation initiated by the cook. 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. The intention was not to portray certain foods as unclean, but rather to teach a spiritual lesson in self-restraint through abstention. He also recommended watching that the servants not make off with leftovers to make merry at rere-suppers, rather than giving it as alms. Its production also allowed for a lucrative butter export from the 12th century onward. 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. Vinidarius' own dates may not be much earlier. Yet the daily menu and average diet for poor people was plain and simple food. It was common for a community to have shared ownership of an oven to ensure that the bread baking essential to everyone was made communal rather than private. By the 14th century, bagged spice mixes could be bought ready-made from spice merchants.. It also gave skilled cooks the opportunity to elaborately shape the results. , Before hops became popular as an ingredient, it was difficult to preserve this beverage for any time, so it was mostly consumed fresh. Medieval foods and diets depended much on the class of the individual. Forks for eating were not in widespread usage in Europe until the early modern period, and early on were limited to Italy.  Le Ménagier de Paris ("Parisian Household Book") written in 1393 includes a quiche recipe made with three kinds of cheese, eggs, beet greens, spinach, fennel fronds, and parsley. For example, sailors in 16th century England and Denmark received a ration of 1 imperial gallon (4.5 L; 1.2 US gal) of beer per day. For the more affluent, there were many types of specialist that could supply various foods and condiments: cheesemongers, pie bakers, saucers, and waferers, for example.  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. 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.  Overall, a monk at Westminster Abbey in the late 15th century would have been allowed 2.25 pounds (1.02 kg) of bread per day; 5 eggs per day, except on Fridays and in Lent; 2 pounds (0.91 kg) of meat per day, four days per weeik (excluding Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), except in Advent and Lent; and 2 pounds (0.91 kg) of fish per day, three days per week and every day during Advent and Lent. All animal products, including eggs and dairy products (but not fish), were generally prohibited during Lent and fast. 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.. 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. , The intoxicating effect of beer was believed to last longer than that of wine, but it was also admitted that it did not create the "false thirst" associated with wine. , Fruit was popular and could be served fresh, dried, or preserved, and was a common ingredient in many cooked dishes. Medieval Food Medieval Food changed considerably during the Middle Ages. Fenton, Alexander & Kisbán, Eszter (editors). Ovens were used, but they were expensive to construct and only existed in fairly large households and bakeries. Poor adults would sometimes drink buttermilk or whey or milk that was soured or watered down. Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking, salting, brining, conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. , While grains were the primary constituent of most meals, vegetables such as cabbage, chard, onions, garlic and carrots were common foodstuffs. 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. Although also used in sausages, stews and soups, most cultivated wheat was turned into bread. Travellers, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, made use of professional cooks to avoid having to carry their provisions with them. Each had its place within a hierarchy extending from heaven to earth. Butter tended to be heavily salted (5–10%) in order not to spoil. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community.  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.  It was unfiltered, and therefore cloudy, and likely had a lower alcohol content than the typical modern equivalent. Many kept a pig or two but could not often afford to kill one. These operations later spread to the Netherlands in the 14th century, then to Flanders and Brabant, and reached England by the 15th century. For those living in the manor house, there was a wide range of foods available. Bakers who were caught tampering with weights or adulterating dough with less expensive ingredients could receive severe penalties. In England in the 13th century, meat contributed a negligible portion of calories to a typical harvest worker's diet; however, its share increased after the Black Death and, by the 15th century, it provided about 20% of the total. A medieval recipe reflects the culture of the people of its time. 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. It was also common at weddings and baptismal parties, though in limited quantity due to its high price. 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. A meal would ideally begin with easily digestible fruit, such as apples. For example, the nobles could afford fresh meat flavored with exotic spices. The response came in two forms: didactic literature warning of the dangers of adapting a diet inappropriate for one's class, and sumptuary laws that put a cap on the lavishness of commoners' banquets..  Many varieties of cheese eaten today, like Dutch Edam, Northern French Brie and Italian Parmesan, were available and well known in late medieval times.  Rabbits remained a rare and highly prized commodity. The astronomical cost and high prestige of spices, and thereby the reputation of the host, would have been effectively undone if wasted on cheap and poorly handled foods. Peasants also consumed carrots, turnips and beetroots boiled or as soup. Even comparatively exotic products like camel's milk and gazelle meat generally received more positive attention in medical texts. 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. The centrality of bread in religious rituals such as the Eucharist meant that it enjoyed an especially high prestige among foodstuffs. Neither were there any restrictions against (moderate) drinking or eating sweets. 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. ), Meat was more expensive and therefore more prestigious. One was expected to remain in one's social class and to respect the authority of the ruling classes. 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. Food from vendors was in such cases the only option. Figs and dates were eaten all over Europe, but remained rather expensive imports in the north. However, the honey-based drink became less common as a table beverage towards the end of the period and was eventually relegated to medicinal use. Though there are references to the use of hops in beer as early as 822 AD; Eßlinger (2009), p. 11. So it is that medieval cooking offers a wonderful glimpse into our past. They It was popular, and recommended by medical expertise, to finish the meal with aged cheese and various digestives. , Medieval society was highly stratified. There are over 50 hand-written medieval cookery manuscripts still in existence today. This way, the smoke, odors and bustle of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk lessened. All types of cooking involved the direct use of fire. The second and third pressings were subsequently of lower quality and alcohol content. Hildegard healthy foods 3–4. By the Late Middle Ages biscuits (cookies in the U.S.) and especially wafers, eaten for dessert, had become high-prestige foods and came in many varieties. In medieval society, food was a sign of social distinction. 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. See more ideas about medieval recipes, recipes, food history. Medieval Food and Drink Facts & Worksheets Medieval Food and Drink facts and information activity worksheet pack and fact file. There were also whey cheeses, like ricotta, made from by-products of the production of harder cheeses. Among the first town guilds to be organized were the bakers, and laws and regulations were passed to keep bread prices stable. Wine was consumed on a daily basis in most of France and all over the Western Mediterranean wherever grapes were cultivated. All classes commonly drank ale or beer. cheese image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com, Copyright © 2020 Leaf Group Ltd., all rights reserved. The image of nobles gumming their way through multi-course meals of nothing but mush has lived side by side with the contradictory apparition of the "mob of uncouth louts (disguised as noble lords) who, when not actually hurling huge joints of greasy meat at one another across the banquet hall, are engaged in tearing at them with a perfectly healthy complement of incisors, canines, bicuspids and molars". 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. Even if most people respected these restrictions and usually made penance when they violated them, there were also numerous ways of circumventing them, a conflict of ideals and practice summarized by writer Bridget Ann Henisch: It is the nature of man to build the most complicated cage of rules and regulations in which to trap himself, and then, with equal ingenuity and zest, to bend his brain to the problem of wriggling triumphantly out again. French cardinal Jacques de Vitry's sermons from the early-13th century describe sellers of cooked meat as an outright health hazard. , A wide range of birds were eaten, including swans, peafowl, quail, partridge, storks, cranes, larks, linnets and other songbirds that could be trapped in nets, and just about any other wild bird that could be hunted. 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. 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. From the south, the Arabs also brought the art of ice cream making that produced sorbet and several examples of sweet cakes and pastries; cassata alla Siciliana (from Arabic qas'ah, the term for the terracotta bowl with which it was shaped), made from marzipan, sponge cake and sweetened ricotta and cannoli alla Siciliana, originally cappelli di turchi ('Turkish hats'), fried, chilled pastry tubes with a sweet cheese filling. Only (olive) oil and wine had a comparable value, but both remained quite exclusive outside the warmer grape- and olive-growing regions. Food is a defining element of any culture and medieval recipes are a great example of that. Each monk would be regularly sent either to the misericord or to the refectory. Geoffrey Chaucer's Hodge of Ware, the London cook from the Canterbury Tales, is described as a sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. , 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. Spiced wines were usually made by mixing an ordinary (red) wine with an assortment of spices such as ginger, cardamom, pepper, grains of paradise, nutmeg, cloves and sugar. Additionally, it was customary for all citizens to fast before taking the Eucharist. Large towns were exceptions and required their surrounding hinterlands to support them with food and fuel. 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.  Salt was present during more elaborate or expensive meals. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274) believed dispensation should be provided for children, the old, pilgrims, workers and beggars, but not the poor as long as they had some sort of shelter. Just about every part of the pig was eaten, including ears, snout, tail, tongue, and womb. 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. An early form of quiche can be found in Forme of Cury, a 14th-century recipe collection, as a Torte de Bry with a cheese and egg yolk filling. Since the sick were exempt from fasting, there often evolved the notion that fasting restrictions only applied to the main dining area, and many Benedictine friars would simply eat their fast day meals in what was called the misericord (at those times) rather than the refectory. Many of these were eaten daily by peasants and workers and were less prestigious than meat. The preservation techniques available at the time, although crude by today's standards, were perfectly adequate. When agreeing on treaties and other important affairs of state, mead was often presented as a ceremonial gift. The consumables of a peasant was often limited to what came from his farm, since opportunities for trade were extremely limited except if he lived near a large town or city. 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. Beer was just an acceptable alternative and was assigned various negative qualities. 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