, Surviving medieval recipes frequently call for flavoring with a number of sour, tart liquids. Beer was just an acceptable alternative and was assigned various negative qualities. Because the church preached against gluttony and other weaknesses of the flesh, men tended to be ashamed of the weak practicality of breakfast. 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. 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. Dietary and behavioral inferences from dental pathology and non-masticatory wear on dentitions from a British medieval town. Compared to meat, fish was much more expensive for inland populations, especially in Central Europe, and therefore not an option for most. After all, there were no chocolates, potatoes, or tomatoes. 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). The rank of a diner also decided how finely ground and white the salt was.  Carrots were available in many variants during the Middle Ages: among them a tastier reddish-purple variety and a less prestigious green-yellow type. Food & Drink in the Medieval Village. 72, 191–92. Most of these methods had the advantage of shorter preparation times and of introducing new flavors. , Things were different for the wealthy. Medieval Food and Drink Facts & Worksheets Medieval Food and Drink facts and information activity worksheet pack and fact file. He also recommended watching that the servants not make off with leftovers to make merry at rere-suppers, rather than giving it as alms. The finely sifted white flour that modern Europeans are most familiar with was reserved for the bread of the upper classes. 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. 46–7; Johanna Maria van Winter, "The Low Countries in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries" in, Simon Varey, "Medieval and Renaissance Italy, A. As today, geese and ducks had been domesticated but were not as popular as the chicken, the poultry equivalent of the pig. 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. My husband has done medieval enacting for decades and I joined in the fun when we got together four years ago. 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. , 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.  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.. Porridges were also made of every type of grain and could be served as desserts or dishes for the sick, if boiled in milk (or almond milk) and sweetened with sugar. Others focus on descriptions of grand feasts. Slow transportation and food preservation techniques (based on drying, salting, smoking and pickling) made long-distance trade of many foods very expensive. 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. While the nobility enjoyed luxurious feasts, peasants consumed only very basic meals. The relationship between the classes was strictly hierarchical, with the nobility and clergy claiming worldly and spiritual overlordship over commoners.  Mead has often been presented as the common drink of the Slavs. 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. , The most ideal food was that which most closely matched the humour of human beings, i.e. Wheat was for the governing classes. , The term "dessert" comes from the Old French desservir 'to clear a table', literally 'to un-serve', and originated during the Middle Ages. 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. 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. , 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. Food was mostly served on plates or in stew pots, and diners would take their share from the dishes and place it on trenchers of stale bread, wood or pewter with the help of spoons or bare hands. Bread consumption was high in most of Western Europe by the 14th century. Egg yolks were considered to be warm and moist while the whites were cold and moist. 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. , 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. 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.  Monks, especially, frequently suffered from obesity-related (in some cases) conditions such as arthritis.  Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the wealthy increasingly sought to escape this regime of stern collectivism. Both the Eastern and the Western churches ordained that feast should alternate with fast. Middle ages food: HOW PEOPLE ATE. Medieval food is a whole world in itself because it is a realm of extremes in ingredients and taste. , Aqua vitae in its alcoholic forms was highly praised by medieval physicians.  While pepper was the most common spice, the most exclusive (though not the most obscure in its origin) was saffron, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor, for according to the humours, yellow signified hot and dry, valued qualities; turmeric provided a yellow substitute, and touches of gilding at banquets supplied both the medieval love of ostentatious show and Galenic dietary lore: at the sumptuous banquet that Cardinal Riario offered the daughter of the King of Naples in June 1473, the bread was gilded. See more ideas about medieval recipes, recipes, food history. Easily digestible foods would be consumed first, followed by gradually heavier dishes. 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 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. 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.  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. These, along with the widespread use of sugar or honey, gave many dishes a sweet-sour flavor. Exceptions from fasting were frequently made for very broadly defined groups. A nobleman's diet was very different from the diets of those lower down the social scale. Great for home … 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. Cooked dishes were heavily flavoured with valuable spices such as caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper. The types of food in the middle ages were lavish and tasty for the rich who could afford cooks, but the average peasant's diet was unappetizing, unhealthy, and in some cases, quite strange. For those living in the manor house, there was a wide range of foods available. By the 13th century, Hausbrand (literally 'home-burnt' from gebrannter wein, brandwein 'burnt [distilled] wine') was commonplace, marking the origin of brandy. The Peninsula" in, The Rabbit and the Medieval East Anglian Economy, Mark Bailey, All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, Ruth A Johnston, p. 19, Melitta Weiss Adamson, "The Greco-Roman World" in, B. M. S. Campbell, Mark Overton (1991), Land, labour, and livestock: historical studies in European agricultural productivity, p. 167. The overall caloric intake is subject to some debate. All types of cooking involved the direct use of fire. The choice of ingredients may have been limited, but that did not mean that meals were smaller. Medieval scholars considered human digestion to be a process similar to cooking. 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. It was also common at weddings and baptismal parties, though in limited quantity due to its high price. 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. , Common herbs such as sage, mustard, and parsley were grown and used in cooking all over Europe, as were caraway, mint, dill and fennel. Peasants did not eat much meat. The most prevalent butcher's meats were pork, chicken and other domestic fowl; beef, which required greater investment in land, was less common. These would be contained in small bags which were either steeped in wine or had liquid poured over them to produce hypocras and claré. 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. Another method was to seal the food by cooking it in sugar or honey or fat, in which it was then stored. A change in culture emerged during the Middle Ages when the travel prompted by the Crusades led to a new and unprecedented interest in … The lower classes consumed cabbage cooked and fermented. 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. Cereals were the basic food, primarily as bread. Meat Dishes - Beef. Bynum (1987), p. 41; see also Scully (1995), pp. As a consequence of these excesses, obesity was common among upper classes. On occasion it was used in upper-class kitchens in stews, but it was difficult to keep fresh in bulk and almond milk was generally used in its stead. Forks for eating were not in widespread usage in Europe until the early modern period, and early on were limited to Italy. 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.  Like their Muslim counterparts in Spain, the Arab conquerors of Sicily introduced a wide variety of new sweets and desserts that eventually found their way to the rest of Europe. All animal products, including eggs and dairy products (but not fish), were generally prohibited during Lent and fast. Skilled cooks were expected to conform to the regimen of humoral medicine. ", 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.  Rabbits remained a rare and highly prized commodity. But most are devoted to recording the dishes of the medieval kitchen. 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. Medieval kebabs and pasta: 5 foods you (probably) didn’t know were being eaten in the Middle Ages; Haggling. Middle Ages Food - Vegetables The following vegetables were available during the Medieval era, even though many were looked upon with sheer distain, especially by the Upper Classes.  Dependence on wheat remained significant throughout the medieval era, and spread northward with the rise of Christianity. In turn, ale or beer was classified as "strong" or "small", the latter less intoxicating, regarded as a drink of temperate people, and suitable for consumption by children. , Meats were more expensive than plant foods. Marzipan in many forms was well known in Italy and southern France by the 1340s and is assumed to be of Arab origin. Freshwater fish such as pike, carp, bream, perch, lamprey and trout were common. 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. , 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. 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. In Medieval Europe, people's diets were very much based on their social class. 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. 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. Fava beans and vegetables were important supplements to the cereal-based diet of the lower orders. Lent was a challenge; the game was to ferret out the loopholes. 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. 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.