What did Europeans eat in the Middle Ages and why we can envy themBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/what-did-europeans-eat-in-the-middle-ages-and-why-we-can-envy-them.html
Many believe that the Middle Ages is a dark and dangerous time in which people did not live, but survived. Humanity was decimated by deadly diseases, constant wars and the Inquisition. As for nutrition, how could there be anything good at a time when spices cost a fortune and sugar was seen only by aristocrats? It turns out that the food at that difficult time was not only diverse, but also much better than now.
The main question that arises for almost everyone is how scientists managed to establish what people ate centuries ago? Yes, in those days, 10 percent of men and 1 percent of women were literate. But even the few who could write were not particularly eager to document their breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Therefore, to learn about the diet of medieval inhabitants of Europe, chemists were involved. Many samples of ancient ceramics with organic remains have been preserved. Molecular analysis made it possible to determine exactly which products left a mark on the dishes.
Another important source of information is toilets and just coprolites, that is, fossil feces. Unpleasant traces of human activity have told historians, doctors and even sociologists a lot about life in those days. So what did commoners, aristocrats and monarchs eat in Europe in the Middle Ages?
Few of us can boast of having eaten venison, wild boar or roe deer meat. And in Europe 5-6 centuries ago it was the most common food. Moreover, beef, pork and mutton were not as frequent guests on the tables of peasants as game. Not every poor man could afford to keep cattle. But everyone could hunt.
In England there were many forests in which red deer, bison, wild boars and hares were found. The birds were represented by grouse, grouse, partridges, wild geese and ducks. The nobles hunted themselves or sent huntsmen after game. And the peasants went fishing secretly.
The forests belonged to the feudal lords and anyone was forbidden to hunt in them. In some places, a large fine or prison was imposed for this, and somewhere a poacher could simply be strung up on a bitch without trial. But this did not particularly stop meat lovers — whole families were engaged in poaching.
Among the people, secretly obtained venison or boar meat was often served to the table on holidays or for guests. During severe periods of droughts, floods and forest fires, unpretentious commoners easily switched from roe deer and black grouse to crows, rooks and even cranes.
Fish was also an important part of the diet of the medieval European. It was especially appreciated in winter, when hunting was rarely successful, and fresh gifts of fields and vegetable gardens were absent. Fish was eaten fried, boiled, dried, dried, and in some regions even raw. Fish was an integral part of the daily menu for the residents of the seashore.
Fish dishes were especially helpful during religious fasts. When meat, poultry and wine were banned, fish were eaten freely and in any quantities. Because of church prohibitions, some animals also became fish. It was not forbidden to eat beaver meat in the post. Thanks to the scaly tail, this beast was recorded as a fish. Some species of waterfowl were also included here.
Bread and in The Middle Ages were the head of everything. Grain crops were grown everywhere, so water and windmills could be found in any corner of Europe. Bread was baked 1-2 times a week, using yeast-free technology. We can say that they ate then exclusively a dietary, healthy product. The main flour was rye. It was also used to make jelly.
Porridge was cooked from other grain crops. Oatmeal, barley and spelt (from a special kind of wheat) were in special honor. Porridge could be served to the table not only on weekdays, but also on holidays. Neither the peasants nor the nobility refused this dish. What can I say — oatmeal porridge has been served to the table of members of the British royal family for centuries.
Butter from cream enjoyed special honor in the countries of Northern Europe, where a cool climate prevails. There were no refrigerators yet, but many original methods were used to store oil. Someone dug cellars and built glaciers, and the inhabitants of Ireland put the product in barrels and heated it in peat bogs. Without contact with oxygen, the oil could be stored for years.
In Central Europe, oil began to be used massively only in the 11th century. At first it was a purely peasant product. But later it was tried out in high society. During the fast, the oil became a real salvation for lovers of a hearty meal, as it was fatty and high in calories. They ate butter both with sandwiches and as a sauce for meat, fish and vegetable dishes. But sour cream was not popular. Sour milk was used instead. It was added to soups and stews.
Beer in medieval Europe was a real folk drink. It was brewed from sprouted barley with the addition of hops, using dozens of different technologies and recipes. We drank a lot of beer, an average of 1.5 liters a day. This was due not only to the love of a foamy drink. Beer was much safer than water from rivers, lakes and wells, which caused cholera and other deadly ailments. Only those who had access to springs had good water.
Water was generally considered a drink of hermit monks and the poorest. If they drank it, they tried to improve it somehow. For example, the Gauls passed spring water through honeycombs. It made her sweet and smelled like honey. Some preferred not to translate honey into trifles and brewed an alcoholic drink from it - mead.
Cider was brewed from apples and juices were made. The monks diversified their table with a special drink, like a tonic. They added rhubarb, fennel, celery or juniper seeds to pure water. Tea and coffee have not yet taken over the world and instead they drank decoctions of barley, chamomile and lavender.
Imagine a menu that has neither potatoes nor tomatoes. They haven't been imported from America yet, and if they have, they haven't fallen in love yet. The main gift of vegetable gardens in Europe and in Russia was turnips. It was cooked and eaten raw. Besides her, radish, rutabaga and cabbage were grown. The universal crop was peas. They ate it just like that, baked bread from it, made pies, cooked jelly.
Onions were certainly on every table. It was already considered a protection against colds and an excellent stimulant of male strength. Vegetables have been eaten separately for many centuries. Salads and vinaigrettes began to be prepared only in the 15th century and then in palaces and castles. The common people did not understand these delights even in the enlightened 19th century.
With fruits, everything was much more complicated. If grapes and pears grew in the southern regions of Europe, then in the center and in the north we had to be content with apples and gooseberries. Plums, apricots and strawberries appeared much later. Where there were forests, the locals willingly diversified their menu with berries: blueberries, cranberries and lingonberries.
We have not described all medieval raznosols. At that time there was also its own fast food, which can include pies and casseroles. Simple confectionery products and even some kind of snacks were produced. But the most important thing is that the products of that time were absolutely natural and therefore healthy.