Medieval Travel Food (Diets in the Middle Ages)
Are you curious that how must be medieval travel food like? Did they carry the same kind of eatables while traveling in old times as we do now?
In medieval times, people had to carry food in their luggage to survive on long journeys. They had to do more than just wander about and enjoy local cuisines.
Do you wonder that what travelers would eat in medieval times? Well, travelers in the Middle Ages used to carry different types of foods and drinks, like spices, beverages, wine, dried meat, and bread along with them. Dried meat was brought as salted bacon or beef, whereas spices were carried along so that the meat could be cooked either over boiling water or fire.
In old times, travelers had to rely on pickled vegetables, dried and salted meat, dried fruit, and bread, as they had no means for refrigeration to preserve their food and keep it fresh.
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What Did Medieval Travelers Eat?
During the medieval age, food was healthier than in today’s era. The reason behind this is no use of additives, preservatives, and processed sugar in food.
Let’s discuss in detail what travelers would eat in medieval times.
1. Soups and Stews
Normally, the dinner table in the medieval age used to have soups or stews on it. Soups were very commonly consumed in old times. People used to boil beef or lamb and make stock out of it. The stock was mixed with spices and was often served at dinner. People also used to prepare stew or stock out of vegetables.
2. Dried Fruits and Nuts
In the Middle Ages, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts were used in place of dairy milk. The nuts were used instead of milk because they could be kept longer and don’t require to be stored at low temperatures. However, this doesn’t mean that they didn’t drink milk, milk was mostly drawn out and consumed fresh.
The cheese was often served at the dinner table either as a sideline with meat or with vegetables, and bread. Some type of cheese tends to get taste better as time passes, which means, the older the cheese, the better the taste. Because of this capability, they were consumed by medieval travelers as this cheese used to be served at room temperatures and lasted longer. Some commonly used cheese types during the medieval ages include parmesan cheese, brie, and Adam.
4. Manchet Bread
often known as heavy bread or eggy bread, the Manchet bread is made of flour, salt, yeast, water, eggs, and milk. During the Middle Ages, the bread used to be very commonly used by travelers.
5. Almond Pesto
One of the most powerful and commonly used food by travelers during old times is almond pesto. The word pesto means paste, so as the name suggests, the dish was a paste of almonds, pine nuts, basil, and parmesan cheese. This paste was used as a spread on bread or as a sauce on pasta.
6. Herbal Teas
To keep their bodies warm in cold weather, medieval travelers used to consume herbal tea. They used to carry herbs along and would make tea out of them by adding them to boiling water.
The place of origin of brioche was France, however, it became popular as a medieval travel food in many regions. Brioche can be sweet or savory. The sweet brioche was prepared with yeast flour while the savory brioche was made with bread dough and consisted of vegetable or meat fillings.
In medieval times, travelers used to carry meat as a source of protein. This meat was mostly dried and salted so that it could be preserved and could last longer. They usually had dried lamb, beef, or bacon. Travelers carried spices with them as well which they used to add to the meat while cooking.
9. Medieval Fruit
The medieval fruit was usually coated up in honey, this method not only preserved the fruits but also made them sweeter. Dried fruits were also very common in the middle ages. The most commonly consumed fruits were grapes, pomegranates, strawberries, apples, pears, plums, oranges, other citrus fruits.
Medieval Travel Food Preservation Methods
People in the middle ages did not have options like freezers or refrigerators to preserve and store their eatables. They used methods like drying, salting, pickling, smoking, cooling, fermentation, and methods like confits. Let’s dig a bit deeper into medieval food preservation methods:
- Drying: this method was commonly used for every kind of food. Fruits and grains were used to be dried in the sun and then were stored in a dry area. The meat was usually sliced, salted, and then dried.
- Salting: this method was mostly used along with other methods like drying and smoking. Fish, meat, and vegetables were used to be marinated in salt and then subjected to drying or pickling respectively.
- Pickling: this method involved immersing the food in a mixture of salt, water, lemon juice or vinegar, and a few herbs. Pickling was usually done for the preservation of vegetables.
- Smoking: was usually done by hanging the thin pieces of meat on the fire. The meat absorbed the smoke and flavor of burning wood. Smoking was most commonly used to preserve pork pr fish.
- Coolin: this method was only used during snowy weather. People used to bury their food in the snow to make it last longer.
- Fermentation: this process slows down the process of decay. Many food items were prepared through fermentation. Cheese, wine, beer, and mead, all are products of fermentation.
- Confit: in middle ages, potted meat was referred to as confit. Preparation of confits required cooking and then drying meat in its fats. Then the meat used to be wrapped in the same fats, then finally stored at low temperature.
Travelers in the middle ages usually carried food according to the time and distances they had to travel, for example, they would only take the bread and some fruits with them if the travel is short, however, dried meat, nuts, and cheese were used to be carried along when they had to travel long distances for more days.