Culinary History,  Food History,  History,  Medieval

Exotic Flavors

The Medieval Ages were a very unique time when it came to food. When I think of the Middle Ages, the medieval people’s love affair with spices always comes to mind. Spices were so highly prized that they were sometimes used as currency or payment.

The Spice Trade, which brought many of these delicious spices from the Orient and places like Egypt and Iraq to Europe was a long, tangled journey. It was filled with dangers and hazards so the spices that arrived at the European markets were very expensive. Often the monarchs and aristocrat classes were the only ones who could afford them. Owning spices was a sign of wealth.

But spices were important to medieval people so they paid the prices. Spices were not just used frequently and liberally in food, but also as medicine and for hygiene purposes. They were often used to preserve food and as perfume.

So, what kind of spices would a medieval person have? Salt was the most desired and expensive “spice”. Because most people used honey or some other sweetner to make their food sweet, sugar was actually considered a “spice” too. Besides that, there is a long list of spices that were prized during the Medieval Ages.

Medieval woman gathering saffron
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Saffron
  • Cardamom
  • Grains of Paradise
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Cumin
  • Turmeric
  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Galangal
  • Garlic
  • Coriander



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