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Medieval Food

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Food
Medieval Food changed considerably during the Middle Ages. Up to the start of the Middle Ages when William the Conqueror and the Normans invaded England the only real influence on the types of food consumed had been from the Romans. The violent times of the Dark Ages led to a primitive society lacking in elegance or refinement. Early Middle Ages Food was basic and the ingredients were home grown.

This all changed in 1066 with the Norman Conquest and between 1095 - 1270 when Europeans looked to the Eastern World and joined in the holy crusades. The following links provide interesting facts and information about Medieval Food.

Medieval Daily Meals
Medieval Food Preservation
Medieval Diet
Cooking Food in Medieval Times
Medieval Drink
Spices in Medieval Times
Medieval Banquets
Medieval Recipes
Medieval Feast
Medieval Fruit
Medieval Vegetables
Medieval Bread
Medieval Meat
Medieval Fish
Medieval Game Birds

Middle Ages Drink
The people of the Middle Ages enjoyed to drink, and as water was often unclean, it was a necessity. The poor drank ale, mead or cider and the rich were able to drink many different types of wines.

Medieval Food - Recipe Books
The French produced the first Recipe books. In 1306 ‘The Little Treatise’ was written. The first English cookery book  was written in 1390 called 'The Forme of Cury' which consisted of nearly 200 recipes 196 recipes contributed by the Royal cooks. Facts and information about the different types of foods eaten during the times including the meat, fruit, fish, game birds and bread. New spices such as Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger, Saffron, Cardamom, Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Mace, Anise, Caraway and Mustard were being introduced by the crusaders from the East and included in Middle Ages Recipes.

The Influence of the Normans on Food
The Normans were influenced by French food and also Scandinavian food. The Normans were known to document recipes although generally they passed form the master cook to the apprentice. The tastes of the Norman nobility were far more sophisticated than the English. The Normans also enjoyed feasts and special occasions when lavish meals and food could be served.

The Influence of the Crusades on Food
The influence of the Crusades had a startling effect on Middle Ages Food. Kings, Knights, Lords and other crusaders had travelled 3000 miles to reach the Holy Lands. And during their travels they were introduced to the spices which were added to different foods by different cultures. These new ideas about Medieval Food were brought back by the Crusaders and new foods and spices were introduced to the European menu.

Asociety change influences Medieval Food
The elegance of the Far East, with its silks, tapestries, precious stones, perfumes, spices, pearls, and ivory, was so enchanting that an enthusiastic crusader called it "the vestibule of Paradise". A  change in society started to emerge. Travel certainly broadened the mind of the Crusaders  who developed a new and unprecedented interest in beautiful objects and elegant manners. It must be remembered that the preparation of Medieval Food was of special interest to the women of the era, many of whom accompanied men on the Crusades. The preparation and content of Medieval Food underwent a 'sea change - into something rich and strange'.

Achange in the economy influenced Food
The economy of the Middle Ages changed. Various goods were exported from the Far East including spices. It became a status symbol to serve food with herbs and spices. As they were exported, these spices were expensive. The differences of The Medieval Food consumed by the Upper and Lower Classes changed significantly. The poor could not afford the new range of spices. Food varied according to status and according to the Middle Ages period. And in the early Middle Ages era even meat was a sign of wealth. 

Medieval Food and the Black Death
The amount of food available in the world changed in 1328. The Black Death spread across Europe with devastating effect. The population of the Middle Ages  dropped - the Black Death claimed a third of the World's population and 200 million people died. The Black Death reached England by 1346 and ravaged the land for nearly 60 years. The Black Death resulted in a far smaller population, more food was available and even the poor were able to eat meat.

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