[Sca-cooks] medieval/renaissance architectural construction crews &, related food references
lordhunt at gmail.com
Mon Aug 13 14:59:18 PDT 2012
I do not understand the question. Are we talking about
medieval/renaissance architectural constructions concerning alimentation
or about what construction workers ate? Are we talking about England or
Europe in general?
Of construction we have several examples of English palaces and manor
houses with independent bakery and brewing houses and a kitchen being a
building separate from the castle as well. Today it is claimed that this
was because of the fire hazard. I have not run across that type of
documentation in Spain.
If talking about what construction workers ate - J.C. Drummond in his
book "The Englishman's Food, Chapter III titled "Meals of the People,"
divides the people of medieval times into four classes: the nobleman,
villager laborer, the artisan, and wealthy merchant, pp 47-64:
. . . ordinary country people . . . 'black bread' (maslin, barley, rye
or bean flour) milk, cheese, eggs and occasionally bacon or flour. Dairy
products . . . known as 'white meat'. . . consumed by all classes in the
country in medieval times. . .rising prosperity of the early sixteenth
century they came to be regarded as inferior food fit only for the use
of the common people. - chief authority for this statement - from
Harrison's Description of England.
Drummond continues: . . . in the middle ages the peasant seldom ate
meat exempt when he did a little successful poaching or when the lord of
the manor gave a feast to celebrate the harvest . . food given to
tenants at ties of 'boon-work' seems to have been barley, oatmeal,
wheat, herrings and ale of beer ("The Economic and Social History of an
English Village!, N.S.B. Grass 1930.) . . . peasants rarely drank
anything stronger than whey, buttermilk or simply water.
. . . the poor countryman's food seems to have changed steadily
for the better during the greater part of the fifteenth century. . .
larger quantities of beef, mutton and veal. . .
The second half of the sixteenth century saw a sharp turn for the
worse. It was a period of depression . . sheep-farmer was popularly
blamed. . .
Drummond continues with "The Peasant's Diet," pp 75-76; "The Condition
of the Poor," 98-101 etc.
Drummond also explains that he's key sources for information on English
diets was through chronicles of travelers to England. I have reviewed
receipts of Spanish and English households. As far as I can see they do
not enlighten me about eating habits of the classes beneath the nobles.
The poor scratched the land to eat. The rich had that and more. Although
Hispanics of the Middle Ages are quick to note there were so many
classes that even slaves had classes of menus. A 5 star slave received a
liver or a kidney while a run of the mill slave probably received lamb
fat as a prize.
Drummond does not seem to get into guilds but aren't guilds a city sort
of thing? Where there guilds for construction workers? Although gremios
existed in Spain, I don't have as much information on them as I have on
guilds in London. - Food wise, I have menus for guild banquets in London
to which I seriously doubt that construction workers were invited.
In Spain, there is very little documented information on what classes
beneath nobility ate. There are a few references to slaves' food in
areas of Hispano-Arab domination but menu's of the poor are slim - as
Drummond points out pottage's and legumes were the poor man's food,
Let's face it, the medieval peasant did not need a recipe for a lard and
black bread sandwich and the noble would not want that recorded in his
To conclude: if we are talking "diets of construction workers in the
Middle Ages/Renaissance" - I would take a gander at Charles Clyde
Ebbets' photograph of "Lunchtime atop of a Skyscraper," and carry on
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