Fun Food Facts #8:
THE FUNKY MEDIEVAL CUISINE
Europe was not best known as an inspirational civilization back during the medieval times if compared to Middle Eastern or Chinese civilizations.
However, they did have interesting stuff when it comes to food. Although it may seem rudiment if we see it from modern perpective, of course, but see what we got from the peasants and nobles alike from the entries we found from funtrivia.com.
- FROM THE PEASANTS
Maslin bread was made with rye and barley, producing a very heavy dark bread. After a particularly poor harvest when the grains were scarce, the peasants would add peas, beans and on occasions even acorns to make the bread more nourishing.
Vegetables used in this stew like porridge was usually grown around the croft that the peasant lived in, beans and peas being the most common. Other vegetables included turnips, parsnips and leeks, depending on what the peasants were growing during the seasons.
Medieval ale or beer had a cloudy appearance and was full of carbohydrates and protein. It represented a large portion of the medieval diet, especially for the lower classes.
- FROM THE NOBLES
During Dudley’s famous 1575 banquet, ten oxen were eaten each day. Many lords of the day bankrupted themselves to give their guests a good time.
The Buttery was intended to house and dispense beverages, especially ale. The man who was in charge of this storeroom was called a butler. This was where the name originally derived from.
Every diner at the kings table would eat from one of these plates. Servants had a specific task during mealtimes to carve these loaves and present them to the diners, the most delicate and finest trencher being presented to the king or other ranking nobility. Used trenchers were covered in sauces and bits of food so they were usually given to the poor who waited hungrily outside the castle walls.
The Kings and Queens of the middle ages introduced sumptuary laws to control overspending and to keep class distinction maintained between the upper and lower classes. The law was applied to items such as food, drink, clothing and furniture. Breaking these laws could result in the loss of titles, property and even death.
Blankmanger as it was known in the middle ages, consisted of chicken blended with rice, boiled almond milk and sugar. It was then cooked until it resembled a thick custard. The medieval spelling of blankmanger is very similar to today’s spelling of blancmange which is a type of sweet custard dessert.
A nobleman’s medieval Christmas day feast would include rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweet desserts. A boar head with a big shiny red apple in its mouth was one of the most popular table displays, along with venison or goose. The peasants on the other hand would have much less to look forward to and would think they were lucky if they had bacon bits or pork fat to add to their pottage.
Frumenty was a very popular dish at Christmas time. Made with boiled cracked wheat hence its name which derives from the latin word ‘Frumentum’ meaning ‘grain’. Different recipes added milk, eggs or broth and sometimes sweet things were added such as currants, sugar and spices.
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