MisconceptionsMany people automatically respond negatively to the prospect of medieval cuisine, and regard the food as inedible and barbaric. However, the food consumed during the medieval period, though poor by today's standard, was not as horrid as one might imagine. Yes, it is true that the cuisine of the Middle Ages compared poorly even to the cooking of many other cultures at the time. Nevertheless, if carefully prepared, they are still edible food that one can be satisfied with. The reason for such negative misconceptions is that many misunderstanding occur due to the difference in culture and material available between today and the Middle Ages. The two major areas in which misconceptions reside are usually the methods of cooking and the ingredients used.
food of the medieval time was cooked by a narrow selection of methods,
while most foods are cooked as soups. Such soup contained almost anything
from pork to berries to mints, creating porridge like mixture. However,
in today's Western society, cooks strive to maintain the original integrity
and structure of the material, and regard most mush food as disgusting
and inedible. The reason for is that the cooks of today also attempt to
achieve the quality of food not only in terms of taste, but also in the
way in which it is presented. On the other hand, the people of the Middle
Ages did not regard such concepts as highly, and cares most about the food's
ability to keep one from hunger. In other words, even though the soups
and porridges of the Middle Ages might not look enticing to one, it does
not mean automatically that the taste is unacceptable.
The other factor that often
results in negative opinions about food of the middle ages is that many
of ingredients of the past are unfamiliar to people today. During the middle
ages, the techniques used for agriculture were relatively poor, thus, frequently
resulted in poor yields. Furthermore, large proportions of the yields were
to be submitted to the lords who own the land, leaving little of the harvest
for the peasants. Consequently, the peasants did not have the luxury of
choosing what to eat, and ate whatever food could be found. As a result,
the medieval diet includes many ingredients that would never be use in
today's cuisine. For example, most people would dread the thought of a
pigeon being cook with oyster shell, not to mention actually consuming
the food. In the modern western society, people consider pigeon as a bird
that is representative of peace, and is to be found on statues in parks.
They think that oyster shell serves no purpose except decoration of the
plate, and is the part that should be discarded after the oyster is extracted.
Conversely, the people of the medieval times regarded pigeons as a type
of delicacy that only the most skilled trappers and cooks are able to catch
and prepare. They also believed that oyster shells can help to flavour
foods, and can be added into a variety of soups.
the above rationales, two extremely different opinions on the oyster shell
flavored pigeon soup is formed. From the view of the modern western society,
the soup is a cruel killing of peaceful pigeons that belongs to a savage's
feast, and a horrid clash of flavour between the flavour fowl and the taste
of the sea. However, in the mind of a medieval peasant, the same soup would
be a precious dish that one can only dream of having. However, one must
note that most people have today have never tried pigeon meant, and automatically
assumes that it should not be eaten merely due to its unfamiliarity. If
people are willing to experiment with medieval cuisine with an open mind,
such assumptions and misconceptions would not exist.