interesting information about Medieval Food and meals,
specifically, Medieval Meat
Middle Ages food included a vast range of different meat, especially for
the wealthy royalty and nobles . The meats included venison, beef, pork,
veal, goat, lamb, rabbit, hare, mutton, swans, herons and poultry.
Chickens were believed to have been introduced to England by the Romans.
Only Lords and Nobles were allowed to hunt deer, boar, hares and
rabbits. The punishment for poaching could result in death or having
hands cut off - these types of meat were therefore not available to the
poor. The more exotic game birds including thrushes, starlings,
blackbirds, quail, cuckoo, lark. peacocks etc, which were eaten during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages, have been detailed on:
Medieval Game Birds
Pork made up much of the domestic banquets. There was no great feast at
which hams, sausages, and black puddings were not served in profusion on
all the tables; and as Easter Day, which brought to a close the
prolonged fasting of Lent, was one of the great feasts, this food formed
the most important dish on that occasion. The pigs were inspected to ensure that they
did not have not white ulcers under
the tongue, these being considered the signs that their flesh was in a
condition to communicate leprosy to those who ate it.
Lamb and Veal
Of all butchers' meat, veal was reckoned the best. In fact, calves
intended for the tables of the upper classes were fed in a special
manner: they were allowed for six months, or even for a year, nothing
but milk, which made their flesh most tender and delicate. Contrary to
the present taste, kid was more appreciated than lamb, which caused
butchers to attach the tail of a kid to a lamb, so as to deceive the
customer and sell him a less expensive meat at the higher price. Regulations,
sometimes eccentric, but almost always rigidly enforced, to ensure a
supply of meat of the best quality and in a healthy state. In England,
butchers were only allowed to kill bulls after they had been baited with
dogs, no doubt with the view of making the flesh more tender.
To the many regulations affecting the interests of the public must be
added that forbidding butchers to sell meat on days when abstinence from
animal food was ordered by the Church. These regulations applied less to
the vendors than to the consumers, who, by disobeying them, were liable
to fine or imprisonment, or to severe corporal punishment by the whip or
in the pillory.
The established custom of certain
parts of Christendom was that
poultry and fish were identical in the eyes of the Church, and
accordingly continued to eat them indiscriminately. We also see, in the
middle of the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas, who was considered
an authority in questions of dogma and of faith, ranking poultry amongst
species of aquatic origin. the Church
eventually forbade Christians the use of poultry on fast days, it made an
exception, out of consideration for the ancient prejudice, in favour of
teal, widgeon, moor-hens, and also two or three kinds of small
shell fish. As far back as modern history can be traced, we find that a
similar mode of fattening poultry was employed then as now. Chickens
were fattened by depriving them of light and liberty, and gorging them
with succulent food.
People during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages also ate fattened geese. For some time geese were more highly prized than any other
description of poultry, and flocks of geese, which were driven to feed in the
fields, like flocks of sheep. This bird was considered a great delicacy
by the working classes, as were ducks.
The pea-fowl ( peacocks and peahens) played an important part in the chivalric banquets of the
Middle Ages. According to old poets the flesh of this noble
bird is "food for the brave." A poet of the 13th century said,
"that thieves have as much taste for falsehood as a hungry man has for
the flesh of the peacock". As time passed the turkey and the pheasant
gradually replaced them, as their flesh was considered somewhat hard and
Venison, Beef, Hedgehog and Squirrel
The hedgehog and squirrel
were also eaten. Roe and red deer (venison) were seen as food fit for kings and rich people
The "fried slices of the young horn of the stag" was referred
to as the daintiest of food. In France in
the 14th century, beef was dished up like bear's-flesh venison,
for the use of kitchens in countries where the black bear did not exist.
This proves that bear's flesh was in those days considered good food.
The following meats were available during the Medieval era, some of
which were reserved for the Upper
Classes. The following list of meats were available during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages:
Poultry and Game
Hare and Rabbit
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