[Herbalist] Got another question

Christine Seelye-King kingstaste at mindspring.com
Wed Apr 3 11:02:16 PST 2002

I would refer you to the Beverages section of Stephan's Florilegium
(florilegium.org), specifically the file marked "bev-water".  There are many
accounts of people drinking water, and some of high-brows running out of
wine and being forced to drink plain water, of pilgrims and ships delighting
in fresh supplies of water, ect.  I have included some of the pertinent
quotes below.
Mistress Christianna MacGrain

"Source: Luis Lobera de Avila, _Banquete de Nobles Caballeros_
(Spanish, 1530)
Translation: Brighid ni Chiarain (Robin Carroll-Mann)

Chapter XII
Of beer and of its properties and of its benefits and dangers

<snip of description of beer>
And because in Spain there are many good
wines and good water and there is little need of beer and it is not
customary, I will not enlarge on this material.

It remains to speak of water, because many gentlemen and lords drink
it, so I will speak of its selection and benefits. "

"An Italian food and health manual from the 14th century recommends water
in the following fashion: "Warm Water (Aqua Calida) Nature: Cold and
humid in the second degree. Optimum: Lukewarm and sweet. Usefulness: It
cleans the stomach lining. Dangers: It weakens the mechanism of
digestion. Neutralization of the dangers: By mixing it with rose water."
Although the text describes the water being taken internally, the
accompanying picture shows a woman having her feet bathed."

"Baccaccio's The Decameron, "And when
they descended to inspect the huge, sunlit courtyard, the cellars
stocked with excellent wines, and the well containing abundant supplies
of fresh, ice-cold water, they praised [their lodgings] even more."

"In Ann Hagens "Anglo-Saxon Food; Processing and Consumption" she
writes "Otherwise wine (for the senior members of society), ale, mead,
cider/fruit wines, or water were drunk." (p 74)."

Prescott, which is an description of the pilgrimages to Jesusalem in 1480
and 1483 by a German-Swiss friar. This is based on Friar Felix's own lengthy
account of his travels.

It is obvious from what Friar Felix has to say that water is the usual drink
of the ordinary people who made up the mass of pilgrims, though the noble
and rich may have drunk mostly wine (thinned with water, however -- the
pilgrim manuals warn west Europeans not to drink the strong wines of Cyprus
straight: "drunk neat it will burn up the entrails, therefore dilute it with
anything up to four quarts of water." [p. 45]). The pilgrim's bottle (which
he carried along with his scrip) normally contained water for drinking.
Wine, particularly in Palestine which was under Saracen control at that
time, was carried separately, usually well-hidden in the bottom of bags or
boxes, to avoid the disapproval of the Muslims, who were likely to pour it
on the ground if they saw it.

Friar Felix frequently comments on the flavour of various streams and wells
they stopped at on their way. Some of them he spoke of highly. The water of
the Jordan River, however, had little to recommend it except the religious
connections: "It was not very pleasant to drink, being warm, and as muddy as
a swamp." [p. 157] The importance of water for drinking may be seen in what
happened, on the
voyage to the Holy Land, when contrary winds kept the ship out of port.
"Water ran short; the sailors now could sell any that was not foul, 'albeit
it was lukewarm, whitish, and discoloured,' at a higher price than wine.
Soon 'even putrid stinking water was precious and the captain and all the
pilots were scared that we should run out even of . . . that.' No water at
all could be spared for the beasts; and Felix watched them with pity as they
licked the dew from the ship's timbers." [p. 58-59] If we want to know the
proportions used by the relatively well-off pilgrim,
we might look at the instructions in manuals for pilgrims proivisioning
themselves at Venice before the voyage: they should buy three barrels, two
for wine and one for water. "The best water for keeping is to drawn at St.
Nicholas, and when that is used fill the barrel again at any port of call."
[p. 45] (Keep this in mind -- it suggest that the wine was supposed to last
the entire voyage, while the water would be replenished repeatedly.)

Incidentally, water was the requisite drink during fasts, particularly the
more solemn ones such as Good Friday, when bread and water were enjoined (if
you were well enough off, though, no great hardship ensued -- the Duc de
Berri devotedly stuck to bread and water on fast days, but it was
gingerbread and spiced water!)

Yours aquatically,
Francesco Sirene
David Dendy / ddendy at silk.net

> -----Original Message-----
> From: herbalist-admin at ansteorra.org
> [mailto:herbalist-admin at ansteorra.org]On Behalf Of
> rachel-wellman at another.com
> Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 7:29 AM
> To: herbalist at ansteorra.org
> Subject: RE: [Herbalist] Got another question
> --
> Does anyone have any contemporary evidence on the drinking or not
> drinking of water in the 16th century? I have heard both that it
> was not drunk because it was not safe and that it was drunk
> because the Tudors did not know that it was not safe.
> Rachel
> -----Original Message-----
> From : T Smith <una_ingen_dhoubhghail at yahoo.com>
> To : herbalist at ansteorra.org
> Date : 29 March 2002 14:23:16
> Subject : RE: [Herbalist] Got a question
> >> > And does anybody know if people drank fruit juices
> >> in period?
> >> >
> >> > Elewyiss
> >>
> >> ...Fruit juices were drunk, straight and as cider -
> >> apple, pear & “perry“, and
> >> many others.
> >> Mistress Christianna
> >
> >
> >Also, let's not forget that wine has been consumed
> >from time immemorial - in varying degrees of alcohol
> >content, the weaker end of that spectrum being grape
> >juice.
> >
> >;-} Lady Una
> >
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