Eating During Medieval Times Part I

During medieval times, your status played an important role in the kinds of foods piled on your plate. Availability of food was also a key factor in whether or not you starved. In this article, you will encounter some of the foods eaten during medieval times and how different your meals were if you were nobility or a peasant.

A Lack of Food Preservation

Starving to death was not an uncommon thing to take place during the medieval days , some people especially experienced a lack of food during the wintertime. Getting back and forth was hard in those times and people were unable to readily gain access to food outside of their immediate surroundings. Food storage techniques also posed an issue , they were unable to save and keep food fresh during long stretches of time. Even if excess food existed, storing it was difficult, which meant a lot of food was wasted.

At the time, salt served as the only preservative and effective method of curing meat. Grapes were dried to make raisins. Peas and other similar vegetables were dried as well. While only a handful of items were able to undergo preservation, the rest simply spoiled.

Other Factors Regarding Food Scarcity

To make matters worse, sometimes food became even scarcer due to the current events of the times. For example, war played a significant part in whether or not certain regions starved. Sometimes, enemies would block all of the routes that allowed the transportation of food to take place. Another tactic of war was to poison the ponds so that regions starved because they could not eat the dead fish in the waters.

Food Codes

Your class and social ranking affected the food you ate during medieval times. Nobles feasted upon tasty meats, while peasants had a limited list of items available to them. The cost of food was not the only thing separated the two classes. Peasants were actually restricted to the kinds of food they were entitled to consume. Only certain foods were suitable to meet the stomachs of the nobles, as some items were considered beneath their class structure.

What Peasants Ate

As workers for the lords, peasants did not share in the same meals as their employees. Although they work in the fields of the lords, they did not partake in the same beneficial, nutrient-rich food as the upper class. They were not considered worthy enough to eat the foods. For example, the bread that peasants ate was dark and did not require milled flour to make it. The nobles did not see this type of bread as good enough to eat.

Pork was the most basic meat during medieval times and this was the main entrée for peasants. Turnips, cabbage and carrots were the vegetables that accompanied many peasant meals. The poor did eat fresh fruits, but these were not available throughout the year. Porridge was another meal that the poorer class of people ate. On rare occasions, they were able to sup on fish and cheese curds. As for their drink of choice, they drank ale, which was consumed by all classes.