Facts and interesting information about Medieval Food and meals,
specifically, Medieval Vegetables
The term "vegetable" was used only rarely during the era of the Middle Ages. Instead the term "herb" covered all green plants, roots and herbs. Food items which came from the ground were only are considered fit for the poor. Only vegetables such as rape, onions, garlic and leeks would have graced a Noble's table. Fresh and dried vegetables were the ordinary food of the population. Vegetables were never considered as being capable of forming solid nutriment, since they were almost exclusively used by monastic communities when under vows of extreme abstinence.
The following vegetables were available during the Medieval era, even though many were looked upon with sheer distain, especially by the Upper Classes. The following list of vegetables were available during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages:
It is also interesting to note that the thistle was placed amongst choice dishes; though it cannot be the common thistle that is meant, but probably refers to the vegetable-marrow, which is still found on the tables of the higher classes, or perhaps the artichoke, which we know to be only a kind of thistle developed by cultivation.
Cabbages date from the remotest times. There were several types of cabbage available during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages called the apple-headed, the Roman, the white, the common white head and the Easter cabbage. The cabbage held in the highest estimation was the famous cabbage of Senlis, whose leaves, says an ancient author, when opened, exhaled a smell more agreeable than musk or amber. This species no doubt fell into disuse when aromatic herbs started to be used in cooking and was abandoned.
Cucumber, though rather in request, was supposed to be an unwholesome vegetable, because it was said that the inhabitants of France, who ate much of it, were subject to periodical fevers, which might really have been caused by noxious emanation from the ponds with which that country abounded.
Lentils, now considered so wholesome, were also long looked upon as a doubtful vegetable and it was believed that they were difficult to digest, inflamed the inside, affected the sight, and brought on nightmares!
A feast during the Medieval times of the Middle Ages often included a "Sallat" ( the word used for a salad ) Salads were made with a variety of the vegetables that were available could have been made with lettuce, carrots, and turnips. Herbs, nuts, olives, vinegar and oil, even sugar could have been included in a Medieval sallat.
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