Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tromp L’oeil cuisine

Artifice was art in a high-class medieval kitchen. Tromp l’oeil, if not la palate. Aristocratic feasts, such as for Christmas, a wedding, or a knighting, were the peak time for all such tricks. Feasts served food in courses, but the … Continue reading

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Medieval balanced diet

Forget the food groups or pyramid. Balanced diet, in those times, meant using food to balance the body’s proportion of hot, cold, wet and dry. The stomach was viewed as a cooking pot. In order to process what’s put into … Continue reading

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Sauces

Sauces formed their own part of a town’s food commerce. Medieval cooks would be shocked at seeing how we think it’s okay to serve a roast turkey or roast beef plain, with a mere broth-sauce on the side. Meat and … Continue reading

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Medieval cookbooks

Books with food instructions were produced for and by professional cooks who used ingredients that peasants and townsfolk had never seen. Training and skill were assumed, just as the old Betty Crocker books assumed you knew how to separate an … Continue reading

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Daily bread and daily spices

We round out the daily diet of medieval townsfolk with commercial bread and the spices that they had for their brewet, frumenty, porridge and soup. In larger towns and cities, commercial bakers took their craft seriously. Of course, the finest … Continue reading

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A medieval boiled side dish: frumenty

Thomas Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge opens with a man buying frumenty (or furmenty) for his family. They’re at a small fair in the deep rural countryside, but even there, frumenty is already an old-fashioned food. By the end … Continue reading

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Meat pies

From the working man to the knight, everyone at meat pies. On the street, vendors sold hot meat pies made of the cheapest possible ingredients. The pastry was coarse, thick and tough; the meat it enclosed was guaranteed only to … Continue reading

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Porridge and brewet

The two staple foods of peasants and townsfolk were porridge and brewet. Brewet was a meat dish, by definition, but both kinds of food could have just about anything in them. (Sort of like the modern word “casserole”) Porridge began … Continue reading

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Medieval cooking methods

How you cook food depends on what kind of fuel and utensils are available. Medieval Europe generally had metal pots and wood fires, so most cooking methods had to do with boiling something. Our classic image of medieval cooking is … Continue reading

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Medieval gardening methods

There was plenty of ignorance in medieval times, but in case you were wondering, farmers and gardeners *did* know the value of manure. In fact, it’s good to view the period as a time in which nearly every kind of … Continue reading

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