An introduction to cooking in the medieval times

Medieval breakfast for nobles

The fruits of choice in the south were lemons , citrons , bitter oranges the sweet type was not introduced until several hundred years later , pomegranates , quinces , and grapes. Cheese was used in cooking for pies and soups, the latter being common fare in German-speaking areas. 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. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned. Exceptions from fasting were frequently made for very broadly defined groups. Wine was drunk - by those who could afford it - although this was typically mixed with water. Multiple cooking pots were used to in order to serve larger groups of people. 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.

Bakers who were caught tampering with weights or adulterating dough with less expensive ingredients could receive severe penalties.

The recipes have been adapted for the modern kitchen: all references to cauldrons have been removed.

medieval food list

It would then be followed by vegetables such as lettucecabbagepurslaneherbs, moist fruits, light meats, such as chicken or goat kidwith potages and broths. Influence of Church Teaching Both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches exercised control on eating habits - most npotably through regulations about fasting.

Almost universal in middle and upper class cooking all over Europe was the almondwhich was in the ubiquitous and highly versatile almond milkwhich was used as a substitute in dishes that otherwise required eggs or milk, though the bitter variety of almonds came along much later.

More intense agriculture on an ever-increasing acreage resulted in a shift from animal products, like meat and dairy, to various grains and vegetables as the staple of the majority population.

medieval cook facts

Political power was displayed not just by rule, but also by displaying wealth. A meal would ideally begin with easily digestible fruit, such as apples.

What did nobles eat in the middle ages

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. The latter were especially associated with gambling, crude language, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. 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. Monstic orders simply ignored therules for themselves, often justifying themselves by improbable interpretations of the Bible. 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. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community. To assist the cook there were also assorted knives, stirring spoons, ladles and graters. All animal products, including eggs and dairy products but not fish , were generally prohibited during Lent and fast. The recipes will appeal to cordon-bleus and less experienced cooks, and feature dishes for both bold and timourous palates. Cooking pots made of metal were more common among the wealthier classes. A large pig is being bled in preparation for slaughter. Rice remained a fairly expensive import for most of the Middle Ages and was grown in northern Italy only towards the end of the period. 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. 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 cooking pots made of pottery that have been recovered are mostly handmade.

These rules, however, over time, did become more relaxed and in fact - except for annual fasts when at least by most they were observed - by the fifteenth century only Fridays were deemed as fish or fasting days. 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.

Medieval food for the poor

Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking , salting , brining , conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. 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. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community. The fruits of choice in the south were lemons , citrons , bitter oranges the sweet type was not introduced until several hundred years later , pomegranates , quinces , and grapes. 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. A cooking pot is a particularly gendered item, as it is clear that women did the majority of the cooking during the Middle Ages. 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. 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. 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. White wine was believed to be cooler than red and the same distinction was applied to red and white vinegar. 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. 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. Because this cooking pot is made of metal, it was most likely only used by the wealthy. Travellers, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, made use of professional cooks to avoid having to carry their provisions with them. Cooked dishes were heavily flavoured with valuable spices such as caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper.
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Medieval Food and Cooking