It’s been a long, hot summer in North America.
I love summer – the warm weather, the less restricting warm-weather clothing, the lighter, brighter warm-weather attitudes – but it also causes me a big problem.
Unfortunately – regardless of my 6+ daily glasses of water – I’m the sort of person who’s easily dehydrated.
Believe it or not, I don’t spend all my spare time writing.
I don’t even want to spend all my spare time writing.
The reason for this is because writing is far too solitary a pursuit – the loneliest of all the arts in my opinion, due to it possessing the least impressive and share-worthy interim stages.
I really did try.
After years of hearing and reading complaints about E.L. James’s BDSM-erotica bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey – after having previously convinced myself I’d never read it – that the kinky subject matter didn’t interest me; that I didn’t want to join the global sales bandwagon; that I was too good for so-called “mommy porn” – I came to have a change of heart.
Old World architecture in the French Quarter
Aside from the obvious – heat, crawfish, lots of people who kinda look like me – I didn’t really know what to expect when I decided to join in on the trip mother was making to New Orleans.
Part of this was through my own negligence: as per usual, I can be quite gung-ho about actually purchasing plane tickets to given destinations, obsessively checking travel sites, scrutinizing fares, and generally wheeling and dealing my way into a good enough rate.
However, once my credit card has been billed and the all-important travel points accumulated, my preparation and enthusiasm dies off significantly until such time as I actually set foot on the ground. To wit, I signed out three different New Orleans travel guides from the library and had to renew all three no less than five times (each renewal comprising a period of three weeks).
Dinner scene from the Luttrell Psalter (c.1320-1340, Lincolnshire, England)
I first began this series on medieval food by questioning what sort of experience one would have if transported back in time to a 13th century dinner table.
The time has now come to take a seat at said table and finish finding out.
The very first point of difference one might encounter relates to the time of day “dinner” was actually served. One might expect that turning up anywhere between 6:00 and 8:00pm as is common for modern dinners (particularly in North America) would also apply to the 13th century.
It’s that time of year again.
Summer is the best season there is. This may be my personal opinion on the matter, but I do believe there’s some degree of universal truth to it as well: the weather is warm, the days are long, people are friendlier and happier, and the clothing is less encumbering.
Cooking scene from the Luttrell Psalter (c.1320-1340, Lincolnshire, England)
In the medieval times, our modern emphasis on easy, speedy meals would’ve been an inconceivably foreign concept to a noble family.
In my previous post on medieval food, I discussed the raw ingredients that comprised medieval cookery.
In turning now to discuss how that cookery was done and what recipes often resulted, a key point made by Margaret Wade Labarge, author of Mistress, Maids and Men: Baronial Life in the Thirteenth Century, is as follows:
The medieval baron liked a complicated and highly seasoned dish. (p.118).