20 Forgotten Medieval Foods That People Actually Ate In The Dark Ages

May 10, 2024

Scrumptious Hedgehog Was Often Served for Lunch

Step into the vibrant world of medieval cooking, where necessity and indulgence intermingle to create culinary wonders. Immerse yourself in a colorful array of dishes, ranging from daily essentials to festive delicacies. Medieval cuisine not only offers a window into the past but also serves as the birthplace of many cherished recipes that continue to grace our tables today.

Embark on this fascinating journey through time as we uncover the secrets of medieval gastronomy. From hearty feasts to humble fare, each dish tells a tale of resilience and creativity. Join us as we delve into the diverse flavors and cultural heritage of medieval cuisine, celebrating the ingenuity and spirit of those who crafted these culinary delights.

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People used traps to catch hedgehogs or caught them by hand during medieval times. After capturing the hedgehog, its throat was slit. Then, the hair was singed off the animal by carefully holding it over a flame until the fur began to char. Next, the chef gently scraped the hedgehog's body to remove the charred fur, revealing the skin. Then, the chef removed the entrails, and the cook rinsed the body cavity clean. After cleaning, the hedgehog was wrapped in long grass, an insulator and flavor enhancer. The chef laid the prepared hedgehog on a bed of long grass and covered it with more grass.

Then, they placed a large pot filled with water over a campfire to create gentle, simmering heat. The hedgehog was put on the fire's edge, allowing it to cook slowly and evenly. After simmering for several hours, the chef removed the hedgehog from the fire and removed the grass to reveal the succulent, tender meat. Often, the chef reused the water to make a nettle sauce to serve alongside the meat. Preparing hedgehogs was very time-consuming. Commoners often reserved them for special occasions.

Whole Beaver: A Medieval Banquet Delicacy

The British Library

People saw eating beaver as a special treat. They mainly ate them during important gatherings and celebrations. Part of the challenge was convincing the beavers to go into wooden traps. If that was unsuccessful, they had to try to hunt them with dogs. Then, cooks could prepare beaver meat in various ways to extract its robust, gamey flavor. Often, chefs prepared the whole beaver with foraged herbs. Then, they added seasonal fruit to the serving platter before placing it on the table.

One method for preparing beaver tails involved boiling them in water and wine. Then, they roasted the tails on a spit. Chefs served the roasted tails with a dipping sauce made from vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Other times, chefs skinned the beaver before boiling it in a saltwater mixture, sprinkling it with sugar right before serving it. Dining on beaver meat was so popular that it remained so into the 17th century when bishops permitted Catholics to consume beaver. They deemed it fish-like and thus acceptable according to religious dietary laws to eat on fasting days. As a result, beaver tails became a popular dish Catholics ate during this time and its popularity spread.