Food in the 15th Century

Here is a list of foods that would have been available in Europe in the late 15th Century.

Bread
For peasants it was most often dark, coarse, and made from wheat mixed with rye or oatmeal. Fry breads were popular on market days and at fairs. Biscuits, scones, and cakes sweetened with honey were popular fare.

Ale/Beer
On most lists of provisions, ale and beer are second only to bread. Water was often unsafe and ale/beer could comprise up to 20% of a peasants caloric intake.

Pottage
Is one of the most common and basic of dishes. May or may not contain meat. It is a thick stew that could contain any or most of the following: cabbage, onions, oatmeal, beans, peas, bread crumbs, or virtually any other types of grains or vegetables. Resources (economic and otherwise) determined quantity and quality of ingredients.

Grains
Rice, barley, wheat, rye, oatmeal, maislin (wheat/rye mix)

Fats
Butter, Olive Oil

White Meats
Cream, cheese, milk, butter

Wine
Vibrant trade in wine. Often watered down. French wine was popular.

Beans
Garbanzo, fava, white

Meat
Bacon, beef, chicken, fish, pork, sausages, wild game (in some areas), rabbits, mutton

Other Common Drinks

Mead, cider, milk (usually reserved for the old or infirm)

Staples
Bread, cheese, eggs, honey, mustard

Fruits/Nuts
Almonds, asparagus, chestnuts, currants, dates, figs, pinolas, prunes, raisins, walnuts, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, melon, pears, plums, pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, lemons, oranges, gooseberries

Vegetables
Cabbage, carrots, cress, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, peas, radishes, spinach, winter squash, beets, eggplant, olives, rutabagas, cucumbers, artichokes, celery

Vinegar
Red wine, white wine, apple cider

Spices
Aniseed, basil, bay, canel, caraway, celery seed, chervil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mace, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, black pepper, poppy seed, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sesame seed, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, salt, grains of paradise, cubebs

It is interesting to note that while corn (maize) is a product of the “New World” and as such is not to be found on the above list, the word “corn” was known and used to mean any cereal crops such as wheat, rye, oats and barley. The association of the word “corn” with the grain maize is a relatively new development of the last 400 years.

Notably absent are potatoes and tomatoes. These are once again both New World crops and though known later than 1495, they were considered poisonous.

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