10 Facts About Medieval Cuisine & Diet

10 Facts About Medieval Cuisine & Diet

The middle (aka dark) ages are possibly one of the most misrepresented times in European history. From Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Robinhood Men in Tights, the middle ages are commonly portrayed as a time of rampant ignorance, filth and general backwardness from which we've only gradually clawed our way out of.

The fact is that this time period was in fact more colorful, lively and nuanced than the grim, mud splattered depictions in Hollywood would have us believe.

Most people imagine middle age cuisine to consist mostly of gruel, slop and hastily slaughtered animals slowly rotating on spits (okay that last one was pretty common). From the use of ale and beer to round out caloric needs, to the invention of bread bowls, the period is chock full of delectable culinary facts.

We learn a lot of horror stories about the Middle Ages in Europe, but the food and dining aspects are often left out. Here are 10 facts about medieval diet and cuisine, in case you can't make it to a Medieval Times restaurant. 

A beer a day kept the doctor away

MEDIEVAL CUISINE Beer and ale provided necessary calories Ales and beer (which were lower in alcohol content) were a daily source of energy for laborers. Slate calls it the medieval equivalent of drinking Gatorade. CRACKED.COM

Source: Slate

Putting our lousy wedding cakes to shame

MEDIEVAL CUISINE Banquets included elaborate sugar sculptures Banquets were a time for the nobles to be obnoxious with their wealth. They would hire a chef who would make sotiltees, which could be made to resemble of ships, castles, philosophers, or scenes from fables. CRACKED.COM

Source: British Library

Don't use a fork, you heathen.

MEDIEVAL CUISINE Forks were considered sacrilegious Europe was slow to adapt to forks. The English were critical of using forks for as late as the 16th century, believing it was insulting to God to not use your God-given hands. CRACKED.COM

Source: AP News

You could be a professional spice-keeper

MEDIEVAL CUISINE There was a whole department in the royal court dedicated to spices The 'spicery' was completely devoted to spices. Popular spices included caraway, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and pepper. Some people's entire careers were dedicated to saucemaking. CRACKED.COM

Source: British Library

They ate what now??

MEDIEVAL CUISINE Europeans used to love to eat 'monkey's bottoms' The fruit (now better known as medlar) with the vulgar nickname was also was called open arse due to its appearance. CRACKED.COM

Source: BBC

Breakfast was for peasants

MEDIEVAL CUISINE Breakfast was considered for the weak and lower class. Nobles didn't take breakfast until the 16th century. Eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony, so it was only practiced by those who needed it, due to health or hard labor. CRACKED.COM

Source: Smithsonian


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