[Namron] SCA cooks.

margaret m.p.decker at att.net
Mon Oct 17 16:46:23 PDT 2005

Pardon me, but you are wrong.  While the primary food was grain, as bread, 
porridge and beer across the full spectrum of the Middle Ages, the people 
who could afford to eat meat ate it and the range of sources was well beyond 
what would be eaten today, even by a hunter.  Poultry sellers dealt in a 
full range of domestic and wild bird including chickens, pheasant, quail, 
swans, bustards, all manner of finches, thrushes and songbirds, figpeckers, 
guinea fowl and turkeys.  Pork was the common meat, but beef, shep, goats, 
venison, wild boar, moose, rabbit, water buffalo, wisent, horse, and just 
about anything else on four legs was used as food.  Fishmongers provided 
mussels, clams, oysters, eels, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, carp, herring, 
mackeral, tuna, porpoise, whale, dolphin, etc.

Salting, drying, smoking and pickling were common storage methods and worked 
quite well.  Preserved meats, especially fish, were commonly traded all over 
Europe.  Primary butchering at manors was commonly done in winter, after 
forage became difficult and before the livestock diminished the fodder 
stocks, when the meat could be preserved by the cold.

Diet was limited by class, cost, time, place and availability, not by lack 
of variety.  The absolute poor ate badly, the absolute wealthy ate lavishly 
and everyone in between ate what the could afford.  A steady improvement in 
diet began in about the 13th Century, peaked in the 15th and declined 
bretween the 16th and 17th.  The 15th Century peak would not be matched 
until the late 19th or early 20th Century.


> And in the middle ages most people ate little meat at all, and mostly 
> beef, pork and venison.  Still very limited, just limited to different 
> meats.  Not all that many people had a great opportunity to sample 
> anything that wasn't local grown, and what they did get wasn''t always at 
> its best, since they had no way to store it.  As far as who has eaten 
> those wild varieties these days, maybe its the circles I have always 
> travelled in, but   I had eaten venison, wild boar, bear, elk, pheasant 
> and quail long before the SCA was even started, and no, I don't hunt nor 
> did any in my immediate family, but there were always lots of hunters 
> around who were willing to share.  I guess its a matter of attitude, 
> modern diet leads you to EXPECT a large variety of different foods, and 
> opportunity to taste different foods, medieval society led you to expect 
> to eat pretty much the same diet every day, with occasional festivals 
> where different things were prepared.
>                       Ewen MacG.
> At 05:21 PM 10/16/2005, you wrote:
>>Ok, I was thinking of the variety of meats we eat.
>>Yes, fruits and veggies, etc. are available in greater
>>variety due to import and cross-country transport.
>>But the meats we eat are limited.  Beef, chiken, pork,
>>turkey... for the most part.  Where are all the other
>>possibilities?  How many people in our mundane world
>>today have eaten squirrel, peacock, and a myriad of
>>other critters running and flying around in the woods
>>and on the plains?  Now, that is not to say all
>>critters are tasty to eat.
> "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."
>                                               Ben Franklin
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