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It also meant people were forced to eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables – only ones that could be grown in the UK though: apples, plums, pears, cherries, cabbages, leeks and onions.
We would certainly have had no bananas and not even potatoes - they weren’t introduced to Britain from the Americas until the late 1500's (popularly believed to have been introduced by Sir Walter Raleigh but it was actually his employee, Thomas Harriot, or even Sir Francis Drake during his circumnavigation of the globe).
People’s tastes in food have changed over the centuries and since the invention of the refrigerator we have all become very spoilt.
In Tudor Times food had to be eaten before it went off so it all had to be grown or reared locally. This might seem like it would be annoying to us but it also meant that they ate a lot healthier than us as there was no such thing as artificial additives and sugar came from abroad and was very expensive so only the very rich would have it.
They would use honey to sweeten their food – much better for you!
Q: Why did Elizabeth I always choke at mealtimes?
A: Because she never Tudor food properly!
Rich people ate a lot of meat and game. Even bits of animals that we maybe wouldn’t fancy nowadays – cow’s udders and calves' feet anyone? Birds that we find too pretty to eat would end up on the table as well – herons, swans, blackbirds and larks (especially their tongues) were also eaten.
They would have eaten a lot of bread too. Rich people would have had wheat bread, whilst poor people would have made do with rye bread and when things were really tough – bread made from ground up acorns. To dip their bread in, poor people would have made a soup called “pottage” made out of egg yolk, peas, milk, breadcrumbs and parsley.
Rich people would have had exotic desserts which they called “banquets.” The very rich might have had their own “banqueting house” in their gardens where they served jellies, cakes and sweets from around the world.
Water was undrinkable in most places because of the sewage and there were no such things as fizzy drinks so people (even children) drank beer with their food and the rich drank wine from abroad.
Create Your own Tudor menu, fit for a king!
Remember to include a starter, a meat course, a fish course, a game course and of course a dessert.