Meals is essential! And no, it’s not simply because it’s essential to dwell. When worldbuilding, meals is essential as a result of it’s a solution to perceive a tradition. The meals they eat, how they prepare dinner it, and the rituals that encompass it are instruments that you should utilize to set the inspiration to your cultures. So, for the sixth episode of our podcast, we interviewed Andy Hook and Giles Gasper, medieval meals consultants, and right here’s what we realized!
What Folks Get Fallacious about Medieval Meals
In the event you’ve watched any motion pictures set within the Center Ages (or in a medieval-inspired fantasy world), you might need a really particular thought about medieval meals. Massive banquets the place everyone seems to be drunk and flinging leftovers over their shoulder, proper? Nicely, nothing farther from the reality! Because it seems, water existed within the Center Ages, and folks drank it on a regular basis (it’s virtually as if it’s wholesome for us or one thing!). And even after they drank ale, the manufacturing course of wasn’t nearly as good as it’s now, so more often than not it didn’t have as a lot alcohol as in the present day.
As for the food-flinging, banquets have been truly fairly civilized locations! They washed their palms, served the individual sitting in entrance of them, and had loads of respect in the direction of friends and different diners. Everybody was taught desk etiquette from an early age—due to course, banquets have been often presided by an essential lord, in spite of everything.
Some folks additionally suppose that the explanation they used so many spices is to cowl the dangerous style of the meat they ate. However that’s not true both! They really had extra entry to contemporary meals than we do, so it in all probability tasted even higher!
What did Peasants eat?
As you would possibly guess, poorer folks (i.e. most of them) didn’t eat the identical as nobles. Meat wasn’t extensively out there to the final inhabitants (though that begins to alter within the 14th and fifteenth centuries), so their weight loss plan was principally legume-based.
And naturally, bread was a fundamental a part of the weight loss plan. The poorer somebody was, the darker their bread was. Now we all know that white bread is definitely much less wholesome than darker bread, however prior to now white was related to the excessive class. In cities, baking bread was typically a communal exercise. Ovens have been costly and troublesome to keep up, so folks would put together the bread after which ask the neighbor with the oven to bake it.
Have been desk manners truly essential?
Sure, they have been! Positive, they ate with their palms, however that’s solely as a result of they’d no different. How are you going to eat with forks in the event that they hadn’t been invented but? However as we lined earlier, they did wash their palms and had loads of respect for eating, so it was as hygienic because it might be. And in case you weren’t positive about meals high quality at a banquet you could possibly request your meals or drink to be tasted to verify it was fit for human consumption.
Banquets happened in massive eating halls, often with the tables arrange in a horseshoe form, with the workers on the heart. There was at all times a lord (or a bishop, or another person with a excessive rank) sitting on the excessive desk. The meals that was served to the lord was particular, partially as a result of if the meals was uncommon (and subsequently extra invaluable), they couldn’t afford to have everybody consuming it. Nonetheless, in case you have been favored by the lord of that feast, he typically despatched meals right down to you so you could possibly additionally get pleasure from it.
Seasonal medieval meals
It’s essential to do not forget that some meals is related to sure seasons (or occasions) of the 12 months. This was due to traditions associated to faith. For instance, lamb was related to Easter (it’s an essential image in Christianity), in addition to eggs. Earlier than Easter, throughout Lent, meat wasn’t eaten and as a substitute they ate fish. It’s attention-grabbing, although, that they used fish to prepare dinner dishes that seemed like meat!
Now, a false impression about that is that everybody starved throughout Christmas (and winter generally). That’s truly not true! They knew which meals they may protect through the chilly month, and they also did. Hunger occurred if the shops ran out however the brand new meals hadn’t grown but for no matter cause. And naturally, wars and pests might additionally trigger hunger after they affected meals storage.
The logistics of medieval meals
Positive, again then they didn’t the expertise we’ve got these days, however they nonetheless had expansive networks of retailers that transported meals all world wide. The truth is, they went to nice pains to get all phrases of spices from Asia, utilizing service provider routes that went by Indonesia. Spices have been extraordinarily costly, however they cherished them and so they even used spices which are now not frequent in Europe (which is a part of why it’s troublesome to breed medieval dishes)! Now, often, a single service provider wouldn’t make the complete journey. As a substitute, they handed their merchandise from one to a different till they reached Europe (or no matter their vacation spot was).
Hearken to the complete interview!
Need to study extra about medieval meals and the right way to signify it in your world? Take a look at the complete interview on YouTube and Libsyn (half 1, half 2)!
Who’re Andy Hook and Giles Gasper?
Andy Hook is an knowledgeable chef and the managing director of Blackfriars Restaurant, a restaurant in Newcastle, UK that serves Thirteenth-century meals! And Giles Gasper is a Medieval Historical past professor at Durham College who, along with Andy, created Eat Medieval. Eat Medieval is a web based course the place you possibly can study to prepare dinner medieval meals with grasp cooks and Center Ages consultants! Observe Blackfriars Restaurant and Eat Medieval on Twitter for updates!
Need to get extra ideas from consultants like Andy and Giles? Observe our podcast!
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