December 23, 2018

How to eat like a medieval peasant.

It's pretty great:



And I learned that "potage" originally meant whatever you're cooking in a pot.

47 comments:

Fernandistein said...

Sometimes they refer to "peasants" and sometimes to "knights" ("in his travels"), and I bet peasants and knights didn't eat the same stuff.

gilbar said...

EXACTLY what Fernandistein said. knights were Knighted; they were nobility (aristocracy?)
You wouldn't be a Knight, unless you owned... Great Tracts of Land

She doesn't mention (in the first 4 min) that the 'delicious peasant meal' they made, would be
A) TOTALLY unspiced (she keeps going on and on about 'herbs' doesn't mention NO PEPPER)
B) for a family of 5 or six people

The guy talks about how much food you'd give your soldiers. Peasants were at starvation levels, THEIR WHOLE SHORT LIVES

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That was great.

The Townsends on Youtube have a channel that recreates old recipes. It is fascinating.

Here is one about a 300 year old recipe for Fried Chicken

I collect old cookbooks and look online for very old recipes. The cook books have interesting and odd recipes. You learn a lot of historical and cultural things but more about the people and the times.

gilbar said...

She talks about 'bread, beer, and bacon' (not salmon), then she says that:
a peasant family would kill their pig in the fall
One Pig, One YEAR

bread beer and the tiniest teeniest Scrap of bacon, would have been their meal
Trust me, if a 'peasant' got meat once a week, they would have been happy

Fernandistein said...

The guy talks about how much food you'd give your soldiers. Peasants were at starvation levels, THEIR WHOLE SHORT LIVES

Yeah. Besides mixing up peasants and knights, the video seemed like something for kids to ... consume.

"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."

"Overall, famines were relatively common during the Middle Ages with the average person being affected by three or four during their lifetime."

mockturtle said...

Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

Always a favorite of my family and I made a nice batch last week [split pea soup]. Here in SW AZ it's nice to finally have soup weather.

mockturtle said...

The term 'peasants' applied to rather a wide range of conditions. Some European peasants were actually quite well off. And in Japan, a peasant was a class above artisans and merchants.

Original Mike said...

I was surprised at the availability of salmon. I think "Knight" crept in because that's the name of the series. I watched his piece on archery and the long bow recently. Fun stuff.

Hagar said...

In some areas of Norway, the household staff's contract with the "husband," or "master of the house," often included a clause limiting how often he could serve them salmon for dinner.

rhhardin said...

The tilty head means he's a lefty.

Ann Althouse said...

This video put the peas in peasants.

Original Mike said...

We found mushy peas to be ubiquitous in Australia and New Zealand. I guess it's a British thing.

Howard said...

I'll take potent potables for $100, Alex.

BudBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck said...

> a clause limiting how often he could serve them salmon for dinner.

ISTR that lobster was also considered a garbage meat fit only for the poor.

Todd Galle said...

Gilbar,
Knights were not nobility (Duke, Earl, Viscount, Baron), they were aristocratic/ gentry(Baronet, Knight, Gentleman or Esquire). In some periods, English kings would issue 'distraint of knighthood' and fine men who held a certain amount of property and hadn't become knights. A nice way to raise Royal revenues. The baronet rank was a Royal creation to raise revenue from Knights. I was looking recently at some late 17th C. prints of English country estates, all listed the owners were Sir so and so, Bart. A quick check lists James I as the inventor, to raise money for defense in Ireland.

Sebastian said...

"It's pretty great"

A pretty great fairy tale.

LordSomber said...

No doubt these meals are enjoyed with a flagon of Meade.

iowan2 said...

I think food is a very accurate anthropological looking glass into the past. One pig a year. Impossible to keep fresh meat. The invention of salt pork (curing). So the animal is slaughtered. organ meats eaten fresh. Some roasts and such. The hams cured, sausage made and cured. Pork salted (side pork)and cured(bacon). Hogs, goats, and sheep. Used for celebrations, because no refrigeration.
Famines reduced or eliminated grain for grinding, so sheep and goats could be grazed, Hogs could live of waste, for a while. Cattle could graze, but again, not practical to have cattle, because they couldn't use the meat before it spoiled. Animal slaughter took place in the winter to take advantage of Gods Ice Box.
The Swedes have Lutefisk, a white fish preserved in lye filled barrels.
All this to get animal protein. Because humans have evolved.

Mary Beth said...

Great Tracts of Land

I think that should be "Huuuuuugggggee...tracts of land".

iowan2 said...

ISTR that lobster was also considered a garbage meat fit only for the poor.

Going back to the Old Testement, Jewish law forbid eating shell fish and split hoofs(Pork). Rudimentary understanding of what these creatures eat, reveals the wisdom of Jewish dietary laws. These laws created long before science explained why. Maybe it was a God Thing

A huge advancement is human civilization was the discovery of fermentation that led to wine and beer. Water was a health hazard.

Rick Turley said...

Unless English salmon are different there’s only a very narrow window for them as foodstuff given their anadromous nature of living almost all of their lives at sea.

Rick Turley said...

Instead of beer perhaps a full-bodied and malty autumnal mead? No?

https://beardandbrewed.com/2018/09/23/bud-light-continues-taking-shots-at-mead-in-latest-ad/

gilbar said...

Mary Beth said... I think that should be "Huuuuuugggggee...tracts of land".

That's what i meant to say, yes! Peasants live in a Swamp!

gilbar said...

iowan2 said...
Cattle could graze, but again, not practical to have cattle, because they couldn't use the meat before it spoiled... Because humans have evolved.

If Dr Mike K was still here (we miss you Dr!), he'd point out that the 10,000 year explosion explains that THIS is why people who became lactose tolerant could get calories from milk products; and thus, took over the damn world

Original Mike said...

"Unless English salmon are different there’s only a very narrow window for them as foodstuff given their anadromous nature of living almost all of their lives at sea."

You can jerk salmon. I just finished my traditional Christmas salmon jerky for family and friends.

10 lbs this year. It was my first ever visit to Costco. Good grief. Imagine being a medieval peasant plopped into one of those.

Todd Galle said...

I'm more familiar with PA than England in the early modern era. Most livestock was free-range, and rather than branding, they used cuts notched from the ears in certain patterns to ID ownership. Pigs naturally root about and don't need daily feed, although they loved spent brewery barley apparently. Beef and fish (cod) were also salted for storage, a process they called powdering. There's still a great Italian deli I visit that sells salt cod. Not cheap now, which kind of agrees with the video about the present cost of peasant food.

gilbar said...

Todd Galle said... Gilbar, Knights were not nobility (Duke, Earl, Viscount), they were aristocratic

Thanx Todd, i wasn't sure which was which. Makes sense, they were part of The Few, not the VERY FEW

gilbar said...

Todd Galle Also said... lists James VI as the inventor, to raise money for defense in Ireland.

Those Stewarts! They were so Clever! That's what happens when you have a Divine Right to be a King, instead of just being some german usurper from Hanover!

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Fernandistein said...
Sometimes they refer to "peasants" and sometimes to "knights" ("in his travels"), and I bet peasants and knights didn't eat the same stuff.

Althouse commentariat needs to learn persistence. There was a video right after the one above that focused on what the medieval noblity ate.

Ben David said...

People in the video have waaaayyy too good teeth to be medieval peasants.

Besides stretching meager provisions, there was another reason for all those porridges and soups.

mockturtle said...

Knighthood was often conferred on people for 'noble' acts. For example, my Briton ancestor was knighted for helping William the Conqueror defeat his fellow Britons. In other words, he was a bloody traitor!

Unknown said...

I have been watching this series, and in the part where he shows what the nobelity ate they describe the enviable job some poor bastard had of wiping the duke's ass. I wonder if that was a prefered position over any other job available. Going by what's out there in the dark corners of the internet, I have to assume somebody actually enjoyed the job.

rcocean said...

It needs to be remembered that while today Britain has at least 60 million people, back in Medieval days it had probably 5 million.

So yeah, there was lots of fish and fresh game for everyone.

rcocean said...

Peasants lived a healthy life. Lots of exercise, no hard liquor or tobacco, no refined flour and sugar was expensive and hard to get. Honey could be substituted but that was a real treat.

Today we can all be Henry VIII.

rcocean said...

At one time the English had a lot of Sheep & were great exporters of lamb and wool.

Original Mike said...

"Today we can all be Henry VIII."

I bet even Henry would have been impressed by Costco.

Gahrie said...

ISTR that lobster was also considered a garbage meat fit only for the poor.

In the early days of our republic, lobster was fed to prisoners.

Chicken used to be a rich person's food.

Gahrie said...

I bet even Henry would have been impressed by Costco.

He'd be most impressed with toilet paper.

Gahrie said...

It needs to be remembered that while today Britain has at least 60 million people, back in Medieval days it had probably 5 million.

Probably less than 3 million after the Black Death.

chickenlittle said...

Made me want to try that sorrel sauce on fish.

Francisco D said...

If Dr Mike K was still here (we miss you Dr!), he'd point out that ...

I agree gilbar. The blog is not the same without Michael K.

The Drill SGT said...

rcocean said...
o yeah, there was lots of fish and fresh game for everyone.


And the death penalty for poaching the King's Deer from his forest.

mockturtle said...

The blog is not the same without Michael K.

No, it isn't. And I miss roughcoat, too. Especially on history topics. I even miss buwaya, although I often recoiled at his anti-American sentiments. He is highly intelligent.

Todd Galle said...

Drill SGT,
That's what so amazing about English common law. Many juries would refuse to convict if the death penalty was the sentence. Early Modern English jury nullification if you will. They might often find the defendant guilty, but find that the actual value of the stolen goods were less than 1 shilling (or whatever the threshold was for execution), reducing the penalty to the stocks or being whipped behind a cart. There was also the 'Benefit of Clergy' which would get you out of civil courts for certain offenses, or give you a free pass for certain offenses later in the 17th C. I think PA finally got rid of the 'benefit' in the 1750s or so by order of Thomas Penn (maybe John)- though I'm at home and don't have my office library available to check the exact date.

Todd Galle said...

Gilbar,
So true about the Stuarts. Charles I never figured it out (and lost his head), Charles II did (and died in bed) James II also did not (and was run out in 1688). Great Chain of Being and all. William, Mary and Anne were happy with to be compliant with Parliament able and willing to fund the wars.

Jay Elink said...

gilbar said...
EXACTLY what Fernandistein said. knights were Knighted; they were nobility (aristocracy?)
You wouldn't be a Knight, unless you owned... Great Tracts of Land

She doesn't mention (in the first 4 min) that the 'delicious peasant meal' they made, would be
A) TOTALLY unspiced (she keeps going on and on about 'herbs' doesn't mention NO PEPPER)
B) for a family of 5 or six people

The guy talks about how much food you'd give your soldiers. Peasants were at starvation levels, THEIR WHOLE SHORT LIVE***************

Oh, for fuck's sake.

The KING owned all the land. He might grant fiefs to vassals, including knights, giving them management rights to the land the king owned.

Those vassals/knights relied on the peasants to use the land productively, and thus to pay for their own lifestyles AND to satisfy the King's requirement that they support him against enemies, foreign and domestic.

So vassals protected their peasants, in return for the revenues the latter produced.

Serfs were bound to the land, but not peasants. Peasants could and did move from their lands, and own property. Serfs could be bought and sold, but not peasants.

Finally, spices like pepper were unknown to all classes. The race to the East Indies when the Dutch returned with huge quantities of spices was what started the era of colonialism in Asia.