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The Middle Ages: Food

Do you think you could swallow the typical dinner of an individual living during the Middle Ages? Were they following the famous five four groups, delivering much-needed nutrients for a growing body? In this article, you will learn some of the common meal items that people of various statuses consumed during this important period of growth in Europe.

The amount of money an individual possessed during the Middle Ages is what determined the kind of food people ate during this time period. The majority of Europeans did not have a lot of money and were considered poor. Their main diet consisted of barley. This food staple was rather versatile, as they could prepare bread, pancakes, and barley porridge (similar to oatmeal). At times, they dined on barley soup. However, whether it was time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner , the meal centered on barley.

In order to add life to meals focused on barley, people learned how to use other food items to spice up their mealtime. They harvested carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and cabbage, which made great additions to their soup. To flavor the soup , rosemary, basil, and other herbs were grown and utilized. They created cheese to eat with their bread and melt on other creations. Apple pies and baked apple dishes were produced after gathering apples and pears. When it came to sweetening their baked goods , honey was used when available.

When it came to drinking, the poor quenched their thirst with ale (a form of beer). In England and Germany, beer was the drink of choice, while Italians, Spaniards, and the French drank wine with their meals. Do you know what the beer was made of at that time , you guessed it , barley.

As for the rich, their diet consisted of a great deal of bread. However, they generated bread that was made out of wheat, which made the taste much better than its barley cousins. They also enjoyed more food choices with their bread, as they had access to pork, roast beef, lamb chops, deer, rabbit, and various kinds of stew. When preparing their food, a wide range of spices were used , including items originating from far-off lands like India. This is where they received their pepper and cinnamon. Something we take for granted today , salt , was only afforded to the rich during the Middle Ages.

When the Crusades took place, soldiers from France, England, and Germany were fighting in West Asia, which allowed them to sample the different styles of Asian cooking. The overall thoughts on the food were positive and when they returned home , they craved fancier cuisine and longed for the lemons and oranges that they sampled in the South.