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The Culture of Food in England 1200–1500$
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C. M. Woolgar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300181913

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300181913.001.0001

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Cooking in the Countryside

Cooking in the Countryside

(p.26) Chapter Two Cooking in the Countryside
The Culture of Food in England 1200–1500

C. M. Woolgar

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the characteristics of cuisine in the countryside. The composition of the peasant diet in the later Middle Ages is well known to historians, with its emphasis on cereals, particularly the poorer grains such as rye, barley, and oats; a limited amount of livestock, giving both some dairy produce and small amounts of meat, especially pork; and the benefits of gardens, at least for some. While there is a marked improvement in diet with the changes to the economy that followed the Black Death in, for example, the provision for harvest workers, many of the time-honoured components of peasant diet remained important. In the highly moral world of the later Middle Ages, with its condemnation of excess, softness, carnal pleasures and luxurious foods, there was virtue to be found in a simple peasant diet.

Keywords:   countryside cuisine, peasant diet, Black Death, luxurious foods, grains, livestock, gardens

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