Six Fun Historical Food Facts


This one time at Norwescon . . . or so my posts should perhaps now start. Below are some of the tips I gleaned about food during the medieval era. Because food is always important in my stories (hey, I’m Italian, what do you expect) and many of them have historical settings like Silent Moon and Dawn of the Morning Star, I wanted to learn as much as I can to include in my writing.

I haven’t fact-checked everything on here for accuracy but with the groups of experts and authors in the rooms, they seemed to be in agreement, so I will trust they were reporting the current theory on historical living.

1. In the Victorian and Medieval era city it was less expensive for a peasant to buy food on the street than to make their own.
2. Peasants would not necessarily have had a hearth or fireplace, nor the wood to burn or cook with it. They didn’t have ovens. They might use a community oven or pay a baker to bake their pie, bread, or other dishes.
3. Not everyone had metal plates. Silver plates or gold or pewter were a way of showing off wealth and doing something with that wealth.
4. Because not everyone had metal plates, trenchers or crusts of hard bread were used as bowls.
5. Turkey wasn’t a food that was available during the medieval era. Neither were tomatoes and potatoes.
6. The cost of a sword was expensive. It might be the equivalent of the cost of a small hut. A set of armor might be worth the cost of an entire manor. If someone didn’t inherit a sword, they might save up their entire life for one.


To find out more information about medieval life in England, the following books were recommended:

The Ties that Bind about British country life

Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England

Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England

Fabulous Feasts about the foods of the upper class

The Knight Who Saved England about William Marshal with details about how long it took to put on armor.


For posts on historical facts about battle and armor or travel during the medieval era, check out the previous posts.