[Sca-cooks] Leftovers, questions and discussion [long]

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Tue Sep 7 17:31:52 PDT 2010

Now as to peasant diets and leftovers, I am afraid I see this as two  

Who had leftovers? The status of leftovers?

If you start with leftovers, and look in OED one is instructed to look  
up leave (verb) and that leads to:
  e. leave over. trans. To allow to remain for future use; to let  
‘stand over’ for subsequent consideration. Freq. in pa. pple. left  
over, remaining, not used up.

1887 Times (weekly ed.) 14 Oct. 3/2 He thought the matter might be  
left over for the present.

1892 ‘MARK TWAIN’ Amer. Claimant xii. 107 Irish stew made of the  
potatoes and meat left over from a procession of previous meals.

left-over, a. and n. shows up as
B. n. Something remaining over; esp. a portion of some article of food  
left over from a meal. Freq. pl. Also transf.

1891 Cassell's Family Mag. May 374/1 They all like change of diet, so  
I provide all sorts of things, with the result that the ‘left-overs’,  
as I call them, are appalling.

So the term is 19th century.
They may have dined on the remains of a previous meal, but they didn't  
dine on a left-over.


What did the peasants eat?

You might check out these titles:
Adamson, Melitta Weiss.  Food in Medieval Times.  Greenwood Press, 2004.

Dyer, Christopher.  "Did the Peasants Really Starve in Medieval  
England?"  in Food and Eating in Medieval Europe, ed. Martha Carlin  
and Joel T.Rosenthal.  Hambledon Press, 1998.

for the urban poor
Carlin, Martha.  "Fast Food and Urban Living Standards in Medieval  
England." in Food and Eating in Medieval Europe, ed. Martha Carlin and  
Joel T. Rosenthal.  Hambledon Press, 1998.

(One might ask where all the ovens and the fuel for said ovens were to  
bake all those leftover containing pasties should the conversation  
again turn to that topic.)


On Sep 7, 2010, at 6:57 PM, Huette von Ahrens wrote: snipped

  Then someone said that pasties were the best way to use up  
leftovers.  I wrote back and said that I could find no evidence of  
this at all.
> This discussion then digressed into the "lack of evidence was not  
> evidence of lack" argument, with most saying that who knew what the  
> peasants did?  Unfortunately a local duchess popped in an said that  
> it made perfect sense to her that people would eat their leftovers  
> that way.
> My contention with this was that peasants had to be better food  
> managers than we modern people have to be because they did not have  
> refrigeration or any way to keep leftovers.  It was my contention  
> that a peasant wife, knowing how many mouths to feed, would only  
> serve enough to feed her family and not have leftovers.  It was my  
> contention that if she had made a mistake, either they would eat the  
> rest, or, if the dish didn't taste good, feed it to their dogs or  
> pigs, or she could use whatever was leftover to make a soup or  
> pottage for the morning, cooking it over the dying hearthfire.
> I haven't really based any of this last argument on anything other  
> than research I had done years ago.  I can properly document how  
> food gets distributed in a royal or noble house, but my knowledge of  
> peasant ways isn't as good.
> Although the argument has ceased on the Baronial list, I keep  
> wondering about the concept of leftovers by the lower classes.  Am I  
> even in the ballpark?  Or am I way off base here?  Does anyone have  
> ideas or books I can look at to see how leftovers were treated?
> Thanks.
> Huette
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