Medieval Food

What people ate depended greatly on their social class. While the king might have enjoyed regular feasts, plenty of meat, vegetables, wine and fish; peasants and low-class workers were happy if they could find enough bread and water for the day. Food such as geese, larks, and chickens were usually available to the lord and his family. It was common to see cheese and other dairy products in their tables. They also dined on other meats. The upper class could afford large quantities of flour and other meals made from grain. There was plenty of grain during this epoch. Additionally, those living close to water often ate fish which was sold either salted or fresh.

For the poor, the options were very limited. Most of their harvest went to the market to be sold to the rich, receiving in turn some pay that most used to buy bread made from barley and rye. Water drawn from the well was used to satisfy their thirst, they were known for mixing it with honey. Ale, a form of beer, was also popular among the lower class. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, almost all of it consisted of a derivate of barley. The rich could afford bread made from wheat, which tastes better.

In general, medieval diet lacked vitamins A, C and D. Their diet was also low in calories which, among other factors, explains the low life expectancy of the Middle Ages.

During the Crusades, the English, French, German and Italian soldiers who were fighting in Western Asia ate Asian food. Therefore, in the Late Middle Ages European cooking integrated Asian and Middle Eastern dishes that were unknown or rarely eaten during the Early Middle Ages.

Extended Reading:

Medieval famine.