Food and drink in medieval Europe

Food and drink in medieval Europe

Food in the Middle Ages was fairly monotonous. Simple people – peasants and artisans – often ate rye bread, porridge, beans, turnips, cabbage or cereals, seasoned with onion and garlic. Traditional daily drinks were tinctures of forest berries, herbs, beer and wine. Meat spruce is rare, mainly for holidays. Occasionally used and dairy products. Quite often they ate fish. This was due to the fact that almost half of the days in the year were at the church post. Of the sweets they knew only honey. Sugar was imported to Europe from the east only in the XIII century, it was very expensive and was considered not just a treat, but a medicine. Vegetables and fruit ate rarely.

The inadequate caloric content of food in the medieval towns and villages was compensated by the quantity:

they considered themselves full, when the stomach was overfilled. Simple people ate twice a day. There is even a saying that angels eat once a day, two people, and three animals. All members of the peasant family ate from one large bowl.

The food of the representatives of the higher circles was significantly different from the common people. Here cooking is considered art. In most cooking books were recipes, how to cook for aristocrats different game, even cranes and peacocks. Food was cooked in large boilers. They were hung over fire on special hooks, the length of which was adjusted. Eggs, chicken, meat of different kinds – everything was cooked together. Then the meal was filled with mustard, caraway seeds, dill. The taste and flavor of the dishes was improved with oriental spices: pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, saffron, cloves. However, oriental spices were expensive and not all could buy them.

The behavior of the medieval nobility at the table would seem to us at least strange. First of all, no one at the table had his own dishes. Gold and silver plates, cups were expensive, and to use clay or wooden utensils was considered unworthy of a noble person. Because the gentleman and the lady sitting next, ate from one bowl and drank from one cup. It was also customary to put goblets in a circle. At the same time

sipped from different sides, so as not to touch the fat marks from the lips left by the previous participant in the feast.

Meat instead of plates was put on slices of bread. After dinner, such bread “plates”, impregnated with sauce, were given to beggars or thrown out to dogs. Meat was eaten by hand, large pieces were cut with a knife. Forks were used only in Byzantium and Italy. The bones were thrown directly under the table. Napkins still did not know. The rules of etiquette were not forbidden to wipe your hands on a tablecloth, but not about clothes.

Before eating and after washing hands: to the table to each guest servants brought a bowl of water.


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Food and drink in medieval Europe