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

By Sophia Maddox | March 6, 2024

Singing Chicken

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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Roasting poultry was an intricate process. First, the cook suspended the bird on a spit. Then, they slowly rotated it over an open flame. Alternatively, they cooked it on a hearth. Cooks paid meticulous attention to ensure it cooked uniformly. They frequently applied drippings or other seasonings to enhance the flavor. This also helped to keep the meat moist. The cooking duration varied depending on the bird's size and type.

After roasting the bird to succulent perfection, the chef would let it cool briefly. Then, he would insert a mercury and ground sulfur mixture into the bird's cavity. The heat from the roasted bird warmed the stuffing mixture. Therefore, a chemical reaction would occur. The reaction sounded like a hissing sound, creating the illusion of the bird singing. Despite the singing chicken's entertaining nature, it was strictly intended for display. Overeating it could poison a person. Therefore, the waitstaff usually showed the bird quickly. They then removed it and put other food out for the meal.

The Modest Beginning of Umble Pie

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Umble pie was a straightforward yet flavorful dish, reflecting practicality and thriftiness. This pie was popular among ordinary people. Cooks made the pie from organ meats like heart, liver, and kidneys from game animals such as deer or boar. The chef began by boiling the offal and then chopping them into small pieces. Then, they added mutton suet and mixed a handful of herbs like thyme, marjoram, borage, parsley, and rosemary.

The chef would prepare a pie pastry by combining white flour, water, and oil, creating a pliable dough. After kneading the dough until smooth, the cook rolled out the dough into thin sheets. He inserted the bottom crust into a pie pan. Then, the cook added the chopped boiled offal, mutton suet, and herbs. He spread the mixture out evenly over the bottom crust. Once the filling was in place, the cook added a top crust. Finally, he baked the pie until the crust turned golden brown and the filling was cooked through. This dish did not cost much to make. Therefore, poorer families often enjoyed it. Yet, it was delicious. Therefore, nobility often ate it for daily meals.