A culinary trip back in time: European Medieval Cuisine
A cold, rainy afternoon is the perfect time to gather your friends for a tale that reminisces time immemorial. A culinary trip back in time: European Medieval Cuisine with all its peculiarities and unique flavor is what we are going to take a moment to see today.
Once upon a time… there were no fast food chains, no pizza and no lasagna; in fact, there were no tomatoes, no potatoes and no corn, because these were all brought from America in the age of great conquests. So before the “culinary revolution” of the New World, during the 16th and 17th centuries, we have to picture a different European cuisine and diet.
The 1536 introduction of the great potato changed the face of Europe, but before this, people usually ate barley and rye (among the poor peasants) and wheat (in nobility circles) which they used to bake bread, prepare porridge, pasta and gruel.
Honey was the ultimate sugary desire. And fruits were also eaten (mainly apples). Almonds were also strangely popular, either they were eaten raw, in stew or soup or as almond milk.
Fish was quite accessible (especially since one could procure it directly from fishing in a pond or river), but meat was a trickier task to tackle. Game (venison) was consumed by nobles who actually hunted for sport, while the peasants mainly ate pork and mutton.
With virtually no functional sewage system, water was not always a safe option as beverage. Instead people preferred to prepare natural juice extracts, wine and spirits. And yes, Medieval folks would probably pass for heavy drinkers by modern standards.
Of course, there are regional variations to speak of. In the Mediterranean basin, people cultivated grapes and olives – which they still do to this day. In exchange, in the harsher climate of the North, dried figs and dates could be found in markets.
Is your mouth watering? Join us again next time as we talk about specific medieval dishes!