Medieval cooking and the Medieval ages were fasinating times! The cooking of the Middle Ages seems familiar yet when you begin to study it, it is world’s apart from how we cook today!
The Medieval Ages in Europe began about the 5th century and ended around the 15th century. Those hundreds of years held many events, upheavals and changing thoughts and ideas. Society went through many changes. The food that we eat changes through history too. As new foods are discovered, like those from the New World, or new cooking methods were found, the history of food changed with human history. Certain foods fall in and out of fashion. Certain dishes and cooking methods are favored at one time or another. New food inventions are found. Food reflects our history.
The foods of the Medieval Ages are familiar, but how they were cooked and used may be more unfamiliar. The Medieval Ages were founded on the manor system. A lord often owned the land and peasants and servants lived on and farmed the land. Whatever the peasants farmed, a percentage went to the lord at harvest time. Depending on where you fell in this class system also had a lot to do with what you ate.
The more well-to-do naturally had more options availabe to them and could enjoy more expensive flavors and foodstuffs. It wasn’t unusal for them to feast and enjoy many different dishes at once. The wealthy dined on such foods as fresh game, fine bread called manchet, almonds and nuts, pastries and used exotic spices. Wine and beer were drunk by all classes though as it was very hard to find clean water.
If you were in a lower class, perhaps a peasant or a shop owner, your diet might not change at all from day to day and year to year except for rare exceptions at the holidays. Food for the working and serving classes had to be cheap, filling and quick to prepare. Often the peasants were up before the sun cultivating the earth. It was more common to find rye or barley bread, beans, cabbage, cheese and hearty stews on their tables.