Eating During Medieval Times Part II

From a spit-roasted chicken to bowls made out of bread, the wealthy had a lot of different choices to consider when it came to choosing a meal. In this article, you will learn what was eaten centuries ago, as well as some of the methods of food preparation.

What the Wealthy Ate

During medieval times, the noble class ate a variety of foods that were not available to peasants. They used white flour to bake white bread and even used some of their breads as plates to eat from. Called ‘trenchers,’ the leftover bread plates were given to the poor to eat. The noble class enjoyed many different meats, such as beef, chicken, venison, fish, lamb, pork, and rabbit. They also had access to delicacies, like the meat of geese, peacocks, crane and crow. When wild animals were hard to hunt during the winter, they harvested pigeons to compensate.

Ironically, fresh fruit was not a popular food item for the wealthy, and they preferred to eat raisins, figs, prunes, dates and currants. Using honey and other preservatives, they saved these kinds of fruits for later consumption. Nobility also didn’t eat many vegetables as they believed they did not provide much nourishment. This view could possibly have come from the fact that many vegetables came out of the ground.

Because the nobles avoided fresh fruits and vegetables, they suffered many different health issues since they were not receiving the proper amount of nutrients. Tooth decay, scurvy, and heart disease often attacked the wealthy population during medieval times. They also faced a variety of infections from eating meat that had been rotting.

While the nobles drank ale, they preferred to wash down their elaborate meals with wine or beer. Ale was often looked upon as being drink for the poor.

Cooking Methods

During medieval times, the way you cooked your food had something to do with the location of your home. If you lived in a village and belonged to the lower class, your dwelling was typically a small hut that did not have a kitchen like the upper class homes of the wealthy. Castles were equipped with impressive kitchens manned by many servants. The poor cooked their food over an open fire inside of their hut. During medieval times, baking, salting, smoking, boiling, frying, spit roasting, and frying were some of the ways food was cooked.

Inside a Castle Kitchen

The kitchen and storerooms for food were found on the ground floor of medieval castles. The rooms had cooking ovens that baked food and spacious fireplaces for roasting and smoking meats. The castle kitchen even had a sink and drainage system hooked up to a water supply. Other rooms that were connected to the castle kitchen stored and dispensed drinks, storing wine, keeping perishable food products safe, and a separate place that non-perishable kitchen items were kept.