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Comparing then to now, I realized I was eating roughly double what I should have been. I feel healthier than I have felt in a long time. Hi Kelly — sorry to hear that! With Nutrisystem I do not have to learn recipes. I am on my 10th day on Nutrisystem and I absolutely love it! Over 70 collections of medieval recipes survive today, written in several major European languages. Diversions of a Naturalist.
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I have tried to diet a few other times in my life but I could not stick to the diet. With Nutrisystem I do not have to learn recipes. I do not have to learn to eat better foods. I do not have to count calories. I do not have to weigh food. With Nutrisystem all I have to do is follow the instructions and eat the foods Nutrisystem supplies. When I joined Nutrisystem I was afraid the food would taste terrible as I had read a review online saying so.
Of course there are a few foods that do not suit my taste such as the eggs frittata; however, most of the foods are delicious. For breakfast I can eat pancakes, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon buns or oatmeal. There are many other breakfast foods to choose from also. For lunch I can eat hearty minestrone soup or choose from many other menu items.
Nutrisystem also offers great dinners, snacks and desserts. Following the Nutrisystem plan is easy and I am seeing results. I wish the weight melted off easier, but it took a while putting it on and so I expect it'll take time getting it off too. I had tried losing weight on my own a few times but it was too hard to count calories and weigh out all of my food what a time sucker! I always got discouraged about losing the weight.
With Nutrisystem I have not became discouraged because Nutrisystem makes the plan so simple to follow. While it's not fresh food the meals are frozen , it still just as great tasting. Speaking frankly, I was really afraid that I would hate the Nutrisystem food. I gave the food a try thinking it would taste like cardboard. However, I was completely wrong, the Nutrisystem food is delicious. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and all my snacks provided by Nutrisystem are tasty.
My wife loves me being on the Nutrisystem diet too. She is very impressed with the progress I have made losing weight. She just makes dinner for the family and I eat my Nutrisystem meal. Nutrisystem is a great diet plan that I personally think can help anyone lose weight. Let's be honest here, does any man like to cook? Not only do I not like to cook, I just don't have the time to cook. That's why Nutrisystem really appealed to me when my doctor recommended it. I am a busy man who works 80 hours a week.
I am also single. I just don't know how to cook, so I eat fast food quite often. I also eat at restaurants often too. The reason I go out to eat so often is because I am single, busy and do not know how to cook. Going out to eat is just easier than learning how to cook. But eating out is expensive and has caused me to quickly add on 30 pounds that I no longer wanted. I thought if I pay to go out to eat everyday I might as well pay to eat this healthy food and lose some weight.
The best part of the Nutrisystem plan is that I do not have to prepare the food and it still tastes great. I am losing weight eating healthy delicious foods. I'm happy and so is my doctor who was telling me I needed to lose weight. I have lost nine pounds since I started the diet. With Nutrisystem you get to chose from many foods that are already prepared for you. You also get a daily menu planner and a diary to log your success in. Nutrisystem also provides a website that includes articles, weight loss stories, blogs, chat rooms and a live counselor who is available 24 hours a day for support.
With the Nutrisystem plan I go online everyday and log onto Nutrisystems website to see my progress. I also check the discussion group forums and talk to other men who are trying to lose weight. I enjoy using the Nutrisystem web site.
The Nutrisystem plan is so simple to follow. I really can not think of any other diet plan that is as simple to use as Nutrisystem. The food Nutrisystem offers is also excellent. My favorite food from Nutrisystem is the beef stew. I love beef stew and I would not want to give it up for a diet. However, with Nutrisystem I do not have to give up beef stew because Nutrisystem offers a beef stew dinner.
I have been on the plan for about one month now and have alreasy lost seven pounds which wasn't happening with Bistro MD. I'm happy to say that losing weight has never been easier. The Nutrisystem plan is very easy to follow and simple to understand. I get to eat three meals a day plus a snack and a dessert.
As soon as I start to feel hungry I get to eat again. With Nutrisystem I get access to the Nutrisystem website tools too. The website is wonderful. I can log on and talk to other people from all over the world who are trying to lose weight. The other people on the website inspire me to want to lose more weight and become even healthier.
The people on the website inspire to me to stick with the plan until I reach my goal. It's a great support group. The Nutrisystem website also provides me with access to a counselor who is available 24 hours a day to chat with if I have any questions.
It's working for me and I know it will work for you too. Now if I can only get my wife on it. I need more support! I have been using Nutrisystems plan for about two months now. I thought for sure when I started the plan that I would probably have at least one thing to complain about it; however, I was wrong. Nutrisystem truly is a great plan. Any problems that you may read about online are obvioulsy one off items and not a consistent trend. The basic plan is extremely easy to follow.
It comes with specific instructions on how to follow it. It also comes with some great dieting tools. The best part of the plan is that it comes with healthy foods that are already prepared for me to eat. Food wise, I love the vegetable beef soup; it is one of my favorite things to eat for lunch. I love to eat the chili with beans for dinner. So far, I love all of the foods I've tried. I haven't found one that wasn't edible. Even the desserts and snacks taste darn good. And unlike other diets, with Nutrisystem I don't crave junk food because I get a treat everyday in the meal plan: I have needed to lose weight for quite awhile and am just glad that I'm finally doing something about it.
I am very satisfied with the basic plan. Like most guys I know, I love to eat! I was always afraid of going on a hard core diet plan because I did not want to give up great tasting foods. With the Nutrisystem plan I have not had to give up any of my usual great tasting foods.
Hats off to Nutrisystem for figuring out how to get great tasting food in a small package that is so easy to prepare - just stick it in the microwave and you're eating in 5 minutes. So far, my favorite is the mushroom risotto, the chicken with dumplings, and the chili with beans, the flame broiled beef patty, the barbecue sauce pork wrap, the chocolate chocolate chip pudding, the chocolate crunch bar, the chocolate chip cookie, the creamy tomato sauce, the blueberry pancakes and the blueberry muffins.
I could go on and on about the rest of Nutrisystems dishes but I'm making myself hungry ;- I enjoy eating all of Nutrisystems foods. I do not think I have found a food that I did not like yet. Do not be afraid of having to give up eating great food because you're still goign to get great food with Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem is a great diet plan for anyone - especially men.
I get to eat great food that is already prepared for me everyday. All I have to do is follow the basic directions for following the plan and eat the Nutrisystem foods. The best part about the Nutrisystem plan is that I lost seven pounds since I started it a month ago.
Nutrisystem also supplies its members with a member website. The website helps individuals on the plan stay motivated. The website is a place where anyone who is on the plan can go for support.
I enjoy logging onto the website and seeing the progress that I have made. I also enjoy reading inspiring stories from others on the Nutrisystem plan that have lost weight.
Luckily though, Nutrisystem offers many different foods to choose from. Nutrisystem is also adding new food items to the menu all of the time. Always good to keep the variety up. The Nutrisystem plans foods are also healthy. Nutrisystem has empowered me to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As an added bonus, I now do allthe cooking for my girlfriend, which has really helped our love life. After all, who can't throw an extra dish int he microwave for 5 minutes?
Give it a try guys and I expect your girlfriend will be just as happy as mine is. I have lost 20 pounds in three months and haven't been exercising at all. Just like their marketing says, the plan really does allow you to eat healthy while losing weight. The foods are very easy to clean up when I am finished also. Just throw the microwave safe container in the trash.
What more could you ask for? I take my frozen lunch with me to work and I can get more work done while losing weight! The plan is also very simple to follow, just follow their instructions. Don't deviate by eating snickers bars, okay?! Stay away from those evil vending machines too! If you drink coffee, stop using creamer as I discovered I was drinking an extra calories a day in coffee creamer! The Nutrisystem plan is great for men who do not know how to cook and want to lose weight, feel healthier and eat healthier.
Since starting the diet, I've lost 20 pounds and have started feeling good about my body again, which has helped my love life significantly. My girlfriend can't keep her hands off of my new slimmer waist ;- She is so proud of me and she thinks I look great. Who would have thought I could eat healthy food that I do not have to prepare that I actually like? I am a married man who needed to lose weight. My wife told me I should try Nutrisystem because I could lose weight while eating good tasting food.
She also thought the plan sounded good because she would not have to cook special foods for me while I was dieting. I must say I am impressed with the Nutrisystem plan. Nutrisystem says they deliver a simple program with great tasting foods to help you lose weight.
Nutrisystem is not lying when they say this. Nutrisystems foods are delectable. I have never eaten healthy foods that tasted so good in all my life.
There are foods like buffalo wing pretzels, pulled pork wraps, cinnamon buns, pancakes and many other great tasting foods. The foods are not drab and boring like with Medifast which I tried last year. The foods are flavorful and delightful. I feel great and I am beginning to look great. My wife is enjoying the smaller me and I am enjoying the attention. Nutrisystem is a simple way to lose weight. Fingers crossed I can keep it off when I go off of Nutrisystem.
Nutrisystem is diet plan that allows a person to lose weight without having to think too much about it. I haven't tried any of the other plans, but I can tell you this, the basic plan is super easy to follow. It comes with diet tools that are easy to use and awesome tasting foods albiet frozen. As they say in the support forum, it's all about taking it one day at a time and doing your best to stick with the meal plans and not deviate, which is hard to do if you have co-workers that want to eat out for lunch all the time.
The plan has helped me look better and feel great about myself. Losing weight has given me confidence that I had been lacking for awhile. I now feel confident at work and am ready for a career change. I have more confidence to ask women out on dates too. Well, at least online anyway. I owe my confidence to my weight loss and I owe my weight loss to Nutrisystem. If you're thinking about joining Nutrisystem, see if you can get your hands on one of their chocolate puddings.
It's hard to believe that something that tastes this good can help you lose wieght. Hey, just wanted to let you know that I read all the reviews and decided to give Nutrisystem a chance. Turns out that its true The plan is extremely easy to follow and I have found it to be cheaper than buying food at the grocery store. I mainly shop at Whole Foods aka Whole Paycheck though. The plan comes with easy to understand instructions on how to lose weight. It also comes with access to a very useful website, daily menu planner and diary that are helpful for losing weight and keeping it off.
IMHO, the best part of Nutrisystem is the food. I have really enjoyed the plentiful food options available on the basic plan. Lots of variety and deserts. The breakfasts are my favorite part of the meal plan; they keep me going until lunch time. The lunches are also very good. The dinners, snacks and desserts are also phenom. Great deal for the money!
Yesterday I got up and ate blueberry pancakes, which tasted delicious. In a recipe for quince pie, cabbage is said to work equally well, and in another turnips could be replaced by pears. The completely edible shortcrust pie did not appear in recipes until the 15th century.
Before that the pastry was primarily used as a cooking container in a technique known as ' huff paste '. Extant recipe collections show that gastronomy in the Late Middle Ages developed significantly. New techniques, like the shortcrust pie and the clarification of jelly with egg whites began to appear in recipes in the late 14th century and recipes began to include detailed instructions instead of being mere memory aids to an already skilled cook.
In most households, cooking was done on an open hearth in the middle of the main living area, to make efficient use of the heat. This was the most common arrangement, even in wealthy households, for most of the Middle Ages, where the kitchen was combined with the dining hall.
Towards the Late Middle Ages a separate kitchen area began to evolve. The first step was to move the fireplaces towards the walls of the main hall, and later to build a separate building or wing that contained a dedicated kitchen area, often separated from the main building by a covered arcade.
This way, the smoke, odors and bustle of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk lessened. Many basic variations of cooking utensils available today, such as frying pans , pots , kettles , and waffle irons , already existed, although they were often too expensive for poorer households.
Other tools more specific to cooking over an open fire were spits of various sizes, and material for skewering anything from delicate quails to whole oxen. Utensils were often held directly over the fire or placed into embers on tripods. To assist the cook there were also assorted knives, stirring spoons, ladles and graters. In wealthy households one of the most common tools was the mortar and sieve cloth, since many medieval recipes called for food to be finely chopped, mashed, strained and seasoned either before or after cooking.
This was based on a belief among physicians that the finer the consistency of food, the more effectively the body would absorb the nourishment. It also gave skilled cooks the opportunity to elaborately shape the results. Fine-textured food was also associated with wealth; for example, finely milled flour was expensive, while the bread of commoners was typically brown and coarse.
A typical procedure was farcing from the Latin farcio , "to cram" , to skin and dress an animal, grind up the meat and mix it with spices and other ingredients and then return it into its own skin, or mold it into the shape of a completely different animal. The kitchen staff of huge noble or royal courts occasionally numbered in the hundreds: While an average peasant household often made do with firewood collected from the surrounding woodlands, the major kitchens of households had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people.
Guidelines on how to prepare for a two-day banquet can be found in the cookbook Du fait de cuisine "On cookery" written in in part to compete with the court of Burgundy  by Maistre Chiquart, master chef of Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy.
Food preservation methods were basically the same as had been used since antiquity, and did not change much until the invention of canning in the early 19th century. The most common and simplest method was to expose foodstuffs to heat or wind to remove moisture , thereby prolonging the durability if not the flavor of almost any type of food from cereals to meats; the drying of food worked by drastically reducing the activity of various water-dependent microorganisms that cause decay.
In warm climates this was mostly achieved by leaving food out in the sun, and in the cooler northern climates by exposure to strong winds especially common for the preparation of stockfish , or in warm ovens, cellars, attics, and at times even in living quarters.
Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking , salting , brining , conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. Most of these methods had the advantage of shorter preparation times and of introducing new flavors. Smoking or salting meat of livestock butchered in autumn was a common household strategy to avoid having to feed more animals than necessary during the lean winter months.
Vegetables, eggs or fish were also often pickled in tightly packed jars, containing brine and acidic liquids lemon juice , verjuice or vinegar. Another method was to seal the food by cooking it in sugar or honey or fat, in which it was then stored. Microbial modification was also encouraged, however, by a number of methods; grains, fruit and grapes were turned into alcoholic drinks thus killing any pathogens, and milk was fermented and curdled into a multitude of cheeses or buttermilk.
The majority of the European population before industrialization lived in rural communities or isolated farms and households. The norm was self-sufficiency with only a small percentage of production being exported or sold in markets. Large towns were exceptions and required their surrounding hinterlands to support them with food and fuel. The dense urban population could support a wide variety of food establishments that catered to various social groups.
Many of the poor city dwellers had to live in cramped conditions without access to a kitchen or even a hearth, and many did not own the equipment for basic cooking. Food from vendors was in such cases the only option. Cookshops could either sell ready-made hot food, an early form of fast food , or offer cooking services while the customers supplied some or all of the ingredients. Travellers, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, made use of professional cooks to avoid having to carry their provisions with them.
For the more affluent, there were many types of specialist that could supply various foods and condiments: Well-off citizens who had the means to cook at home could on special occasions hire professionals when their own kitchen or staff could not handle the burden of throwing a major banquet. Urban cookshops that catered to workers or the destitute were regarded as unsavory and disreputable places by the well-to-do and professional cooks tended to have a bad reputation.
Geoffrey Chaucer 's Hodge of Ware, the London cook from the Canterbury Tales , is described as a sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. French cardinal Jacques de Vitry 's sermons from the early 13th century describe sellers of cooked meat as an outright health hazard.
The stereotypical cook in art and literature was male, hot-tempered, prone to drunkenness, and often depicted guarding his stewpot from being pilfered by both humans and animals. In the early 15th century, the English monk John Lydgate articulated the beliefs of many of his contemporaries by proclaiming that "Hoot ffir [fire] and smoke makith many an angry cook.
The period between c. More intense agriculture on an ever-increasing acreage resulted in a shift from animal products, like meat and dairy, to various grains and vegetables as the staple of the majority population.
A bread-based diet became gradually more common during the 15th century and replaced warm intermediate meals that were porridge- or gruel-based. Leavened bread was more common in wheat-growing regions in the south, while unleavened flatbread of barley, rye or oats remained more common in northern and highland regions, and unleavened flatbread was also common as provisions for troops. The most common grains were rye , barley , buckwheat , millet and oats.
Rice remained a fairly expensive import for most of the Middle Ages and was grown in northern Italy only towards the end of the period. Wheat was common all over Europe and was considered to be the most nutritious of all grains, but was more prestigious and thus more expensive. The finely sifted white flour that modern Europeans are most familiar with was reserved for the bread of the upper classes. As one descended the social ladder, bread became coarser, darker, and its bran content increased.
In times of grain shortages or outright famine, grains could be supplemented with cheaper and less desirable substitutes like chestnuts , dried legumes , acorns , ferns , and a wide variety of more or less nutritious vegetable matter. One of the most common constituents of a medieval meal, either as part of a banquet or as a small snack, were sops , pieces of bread with which a liquid like wine , soup , broth , or sauce could be soaked up and eaten.
Another common sight at the medieval dinner table was the frumenty , a thick wheat porridge often boiled in a meat broth and seasoned with spices. Porridges were also made of every type of grain and could be served as desserts or dishes for the sick, if boiled in milk or almond milk and sweetened with sugar.
Pies filled with meats, eggs, vegetables, or fruit were common throughout Europe, as were turnovers , fritters , doughnuts , and many similar pastries. By the Late Middle Ages biscuits cookies in the U. Grain, either as bread crumbs or flour, was also the most common thickener of soups and stews, alone or in combination with almond milk. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community.
Bread consumption was high in most of Western Europe by the 14th century. Estimates of bread consumption from different regions are fairly similar: Among the first town guilds to be organized were the bakers', and laws and regulations were passed to keep bread prices stable.
The English Assize of Bread and Ale of listed extensive tables where the size, weight, and price of a loaf of bread were regulated in relation to grain prices. The baker's profit margin stipulated in the tables was later increased through successful lobbying from the London Baker's Company by adding the cost of everything from firewood and salt to the baker's wife, house, and dog. Since bread was such a central part of the medieval diet, swindling by those who were trusted with supplying the precious commodity to the community was considered a serious offense.
Bakers who were caught tampering with weights or adulterating dough with less expensive ingredients could receive severe penalties. This gave rise to the " baker's dozen ": While grains were the primary constituent of most meals, vegetables such as cabbage , chard , onions , garlic and carrots were common foodstuffs. Many of these were eaten daily by peasants and workers and were less prestigious than meat. The cookbooks, which appeared in the late Middle Ages and were intended mostly for those who could afford such luxuries, contained only a small number of recipes using vegetables as the main ingredient.
The lack of recipes for many basic vegetable dishes, such as potages , has been interpreted not to mean that they were absent from the meals of the nobility, but rather that they were considered so basic that they did not require recording. Various legumes , like chickpeas , fava beans and field peas were also common and important sources of protein , especially among the lower classes.
With the exception of peas, legumes were often viewed with some suspicion by the dietitians advising the upper class, partly because of their tendency to cause flatulence but also because they were associated with the coarse food of peasants. The importance of vegetables to the common people is illustrated by accounts from 16th-century Germany stating that many peasants ate sauerkraut from three to four times a day. Fruit was popular and could be served fresh, dried, or preserved, and was a common ingredient in many cooked dishes.
The fruits of choice in the south were lemons , citrons , bitter oranges the sweet type was not introduced until several hundred years later , pomegranates , quinces , and, of course, grapes. Farther north, apples , pears , plums , and strawberries were more common. Figs and dates were eaten all over Europe, but remained rather expensive imports in the north. Common and often basic ingredients in many modern European cuisines like potatoes , kidney beans , cacao , vanilla , tomatoes , chili peppers and maize were not available to Europeans until after , after European contact with the Americas, and even then it often took considerable time, sometimes several centuries, for the new foodstuffs to be accepted by society at large.
Milk was an important source of animal protein for those who could not afford meat. It would mostly come from cows, but milk from goats and sheep was also common. Plain fresh milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, and was usually reserved for the very young or elderly.
Poor adults would sometimes drink buttermilk or whey or milk that was soured or watered down. On occasion it was used in upper-class kitchens in stews, but it was difficult to keep fresh in bulk and almond milk was generally used in its stead. Cheese was far more important as a foodstuff, especially for common people, and it has been suggested that it was, during many periods, the chief supplier of animal protein among the lower classes.
There were also whey cheeses , like ricotta , made from by-products of the production of harder cheeses. Cheese was used in cooking for pies and soups, the latter being common fare in German-speaking areas. Butter , another important dairy product, was in popular use in the regions of Northern Europe that specialized in cattle production in the latter half of the Middle Ages, the Low Countries and Southern Scandinavia.
While most other regions used oil or lard as cooking fats, butter was the dominant cooking medium in these areas. Its production also allowed for a lucrative butter export from the 12th century onward. While all forms of wild game were popular among those who could obtain it, most meat came from domestic animals. Domestic working animals that were no longer able to work were slaughtered but not particularly appetizing and therefore were less valued as meat.
Beef was not as common as today because raising cattle was labor-intensive, requiring pastures and feed, and oxen and cows were much more valuable as draught animals and for producing milk. Mutton and lamb were fairly common, especially in areas with a sizeable wool industry, as was veal.
Domestic pigs often ran freely even in towns and could be fed on just about any organic waste, and suckling pig was a sought-after delicacy. Just about every part of the pig was eaten, including ears, snout, tail, tongue , and womb. Intestines, bladder and stomach could be used as casings for sausage or even illusion food such as giant eggs.
Among the meats that today are rare or even considered inappropriate for human consumption are the hedgehog and porcupine , occasionally mentioned in late medieval recipe collections. In England, they were deliberately introduced by the 13th century and their colonies were carefully protected. They were of particular value for monasteries, because newborn rabbits were allegedly declared fish or, at least, not-meat by the church and therefore they could be eaten during Lent.
A wide range of birds were eaten, including swans , peafowl , quail , partridge , storks , cranes , larks , linnets and other songbirds that could be trapped in nets, and just about any other wild bird that could be hunted. Swans and peafowl were domesticated to some extent, but were only eaten by the social elite, and more praised for their fine appearance as stunning entertainment dishes, entremets , than for their meat. As today, geese and ducks had been domesticated but were not as popular as the chicken , the fowl equivalent of the pig.
But at the Fourth Council of the Lateran , Pope Innocent III explicitly prohibited the eating of barnacle geese during Lent, arguing that they lived and fed like ducks and so were of the same nature as other birds.
Meats were more expensive than plant foods. Though rich in protein , the calorie -to-weight ratio of meat was less than that of plant food.
Meat could be up to four times as expensive as bread. Fish was up to 16 times as costly, and was expensive even for coastal populations. This meant that fasts could mean an especially meager diet for those who could not afford alternatives to meat and animal products like milk and eggs.
It was only after the Black Death had eradicated up to half of the European population that meat became more common even for poorer people. The drastic reduction in many populated areas resulted in a labor shortage, meaning that wages dramatically increased. It also left vast areas of farmland untended, making them available for pasture and putting more meat on the market.
Although less prestigious than other animal meats, and often seen as merely an alternative to meat on fast days, seafood was the mainstay of many coastal populations.
Also included were the beaver , due to its scaly tail and considerable time spent in water, and barnacle geese , due to the belief that they developed underwater in the form of barnacles. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II examined barnacles and noted no evidence of any bird-like embryo in them, and the secretary of Leo of Rozmital wrote a very skeptical account of his reaction to being served barnacle goose at a fish-day dinner in Especially important was the fishing and trade in herring and cod in the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.
The herring was of unprecedented significance to the economy of much of Northern Europe, and it was one of the most common commodities traded by the Hanseatic League , a powerful north German alliance of trading guilds. Kippers made from herring caught in the North Sea could be found in markets as far away as Constantinople. Stockfish , cod that was split down the middle, fixed to a pole and dried, was very common, though preparation could be time-consuming, and meant beating the dried fish with a mallet before soaking it in water.
A wide range of mollusks including oysters , mussels and scallops were eaten by coastal and river-dwelling populations, and freshwater crayfish were seen as a desirable alternative to meat during fish days.
Compared to meat, fish was much more expensive for inland populations, especially in Central Europe, and therefore not an option for most. Freshwater fish such as pike , carp , bream , perch , lamprey and trout were common. While in modern times, water is often drunk with a meal, in the Middle Ages, however, concerns over purity, medical recommendations and its low prestige value made it less favored, and alcoholic beverages were preferred. They were seen as more nutritious and beneficial to digestion than water, with the invaluable bonus of being less prone to putrefaction due to the alcohol content.
Wine was consumed on a daily basis in most of France and all over the Western Mediterranean wherever grapes were cultivated. Further north it remained the preferred drink of the bourgeoisie and the nobility who could afford it, and far less common among peasants and workers.
The drink of commoners in the northern parts of the continent was primarily beer or ale. Juices , as well as wines, of a multitude of fruits and berries had been known at least since Roman antiquity and were still consumed in the Middle Ages: Medieval drinks that have survived to this day include prunellé from wild plums modern-day slivovitz , mulberry gin and blackberry wine.
Many variants of mead have been found in medieval recipes, with or without alcoholic content. However, the honey -based drink became less common as a table beverage towards the end of the period and was eventually relegated to medicinal use. This is partially true since mead bore great symbolic value at important occasions.
When agreeing on treaties and other important affairs of state, mead was often presented as a ceremonial gift. It was also common at weddings and baptismal parties, though in limited quantity due to its high price. In medieval Poland , mead had a status equivalent to that of imported luxuries, such as spices and wines. Plain milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, being reserved for the very young or elderly, and then usually as buttermilk or whey.
Fresh milk was overall less common than other dairy products because of the lack of technology to keep it from spoiling. However, neither of these non-alcoholic social drinks were consumed in Europe before the late 16th and early 17th century. Wine was commonly drunk and was also regarded as the most prestigious and healthy choice.
According to Galen 's dietetics it was considered hot and dry but these qualities were moderated when wine was watered down. Unlike water or beer, which were considered cold and moist, consumption of wine in moderation especially red wine was, among other things, believed to aid digestion, generate good blood and brighten the mood.
The first pressing was made into the finest and most expensive wines which were reserved for the upper classes.
The second and third pressings were subsequently of lower quality and alcohol content. Common folk usually had to settle for a cheap white or rosé from a second or even third pressing, meaning that it could be consumed in quite generous amounts without leading to heavy intoxication. For the poorest or the most pious , watered-down vinegar similar to Ancient Roman posca would often be the only available choice.
The aging of high quality red wine required specialized knowledge as well as expensive storage and equipment, and resulted in an even more expensive end product. Judging from the advice given in many medieval documents on how to salvage wine that bore signs of going bad, preservation must have been a widespread problem. Even if vinegar was a common ingredient, there was only so much of it that could be used.
In the 14th century cookbook Le Viandier there are several methods for salvaging spoiling wine; making sure that the wine barrels are always topped up or adding a mixture of dried and boiled white grape seeds with the ash of dried and burnt lees of white wine were both effective bactericides , even if the chemical processes were not understood at the time.
Wine was believed to act as a kind of vaporizer and conduit of other foodstuffs to every part of the body, and the addition of fragrant and exotic spices would make it even more wholesome. Spiced wines were usually made by mixing an ordinary red wine with an assortment of spices such as ginger , cardamom , pepper , grains of paradise , nutmeg , cloves and sugar.
These would be contained in small bags which were either steeped in wine or had liquid poured over them to produce hypocras and claré. By the 14th century, bagged spice mixes could be bought ready-made from spice merchants. While wine was the most common table beverage in much of Europe, this was not the case in the northern regions where grapes were not cultivated. Those who could afford it drank imported wine, but even for nobility in these areas it was common to drink beer or ale , particularly towards the end of the Middle Ages.
In England , the Low Countries , northern Germany , Poland and Scandinavia , beer was consumed on a daily basis by people of all social classes and age groups. For most medieval Europeans, it was a humble brew compared with common southern drinks and cooking ingredients, such as wine, lemons and olive oil.
Even comparatively exotic products like camel 's milk and gazelle meat generally received more positive attention in medical texts. Beer was just an acceptable alternative and was assigned various negative qualities.
In , the Sienese physician Aldobrandino described beer in the following way:. But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth , it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one's flesh white and smooth.
The intoxicating effect of beer was believed to last longer than that of wine, but it was also admitted that it did not create the "false thirst" associated with wine. Though less prominent than in the north, beer was consumed in northern France and the Italian mainland. Perhaps as a consequence of the Norman conquest and the travelling of nobles between France and England, one French variant described in the 14th century cookbook Le Menagier de Paris was called godale most likely a direct borrowing from the English "good ale" and was made from barley and spelt , but without hops.
In England there were also the variants poset ale , made from hot milk and cold ale, and brakot or braggot , a spiced ale prepared much like hypocras. That hops could be used for flavoring beer had been known at least since Carolingian times, but was adopted gradually due to difficulties in establishing the appropriate proportions.
Before the widespread use of hops, gruit , a mix of various herbs , had been used. Gruit had the same preserving properties as hops, though less reliable depending on what herbs were in it, and the end result was much more variable. Another flavoring method was to increase the alcohol content, but this was more expensive and lent the beer the undesired characteristic of being a quick and heavy intoxicant. Hops may have been widely used in England in the tenth century; they were grown in Austria by and in Finland by , and possibly much earlier.
Before hops became popular as an ingredient, it was difficult to preserve this beverage for any time, and so, it was mostly consumed fresh. Quantities of beer consumed by medieval residents of Europe, as recorded in contemporary literature, far exceed intakes in the modern world. For example, sailors in 16th century England and Denmark received a ration of 1 imperial gallon 4.
Polish peasants consumed up to 3 litres 0. In the Early Middle Ages beer was primarily brewed in monasteries , and on a smaller scale in individual households. By the High Middle Ages breweries in the fledgling medieval towns of northern Germany began to take over production. Though most of the breweries were small family businesses that employed at most eight to ten people, regular production allowed for investment in better equipment and increased experimentation with new recipes and brewing techniques.
These operations later spread to the Netherlands in the 14th century, then to Flanders and Brabant , and reached England by the 15th century.
Hopped beer became very popular in the last decades of the Late Middle Ages. When perfected as an ingredient, hops could make beer keep for six months or more, and facilitated extensive exports. In turn, ale or beer was classified into "strong" and "small", the latter less intoxicating, regarded as a drink of temperate people, and suitable for consumption by children.
As late as , John Locke stated that the only drink he considered suitable for children of all ages was small beer, while criticizing the apparently common practice among Englishmen of the time to give their children wine and strong alcohol.
By modern standards, the brewing process was relatively inefficient, but capable of producing quite strong alcohol when that was desired. One recent attempt to recreate medieval English "strong ale" using recipes and techniques of the era albeit with the use of modern yeast strains yielded a strongly alcoholic brew with original gravity of 1. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew of the technique of distillation , but it was not practiced on a major scale in Europe until some time around the 12th century, when Arabic innovations in the field combined with water-cooled glass alembics were introduced.
Distillation was believed by medieval scholars to produce the essence of the liquid being purified, and the term aqua vitae "water of life" was used as a generic term for all kinds of distillates. Alcoholic distillates were also occasionally used to create dazzling, fire-breathing entremets a type of entertainment dish after a course by soaking a piece of cotton in spirits.
It would then be placed in the mouth of the stuffed, cooked and occasionally redressed animals, and lit just before presenting the creation. Aqua vitae in its alcoholic forms was highly praised by medieval physicians.
In Arnaldus of Villanova wrote that "[i]t prolongs good health, dissipates superfluous humours, reanimates the heart and maintains youth. By the 13th century, Hausbrand literally "home-burnt" from gebrannter wein, brandwein ; "burnt [distilled] wine" was commonplace, marking the origin of brandy.
Towards the end of the Late Middle Ages, the consumption of spirits became so ingrained even among the general population that restrictions on sales and production began to appear in the late 15th century. In the city of Nuremberg issued restrictions on the selling of aquavit on Sundays and official holidays. Spices were among the most luxurious products available in the Middle Ages, the most common being black pepper , cinnamon and the cheaper alternative cassia , cumin , nutmeg , ginger and cloves.
They all had to be imported from plantations in Asia and Africa , which made them extremely expensive, and gave them social cachet such that pepper for example was hoarded, traded and conspicuously donated in the manner of gold bullion.
The value of these goods was the equivalent of a yearly supply of grain for 1. Sugar , unlike today, was considered to be a type of spice due to its high cost and humoral qualities. Even when a dish was dominated by a single flavor it was usually combined with another to produce a compound taste, for example parsley and cloves or pepper and ginger.
Common herbs such as sage , mustard , and parsley were grown and used in cooking all over Europe, as were caraway , mint , dill and fennel. Many of these plants grew throughout all of Europe or were cultivated in gardens, and were a cheaper alternative to exotic spices. Mustard was particularly popular with meat products and was described by Hildegard of Bingen — as poor man's food.
While locally grown herbs were less prestigious than spices, they were still used in upper-class food, but were then usually less prominent or included merely as coloring.
Anise was used to flavor fish and chicken dishes, and its seeds were served as sugar-coated comfits. Surviving medieval recipes frequently call for flavoring with a number of sour, tart liquids. Wine, verjuice the juice of unripe grapes or fruits vinegar and the juices of various fruits, especially those with tart flavors, were almost universal and a hallmark of late medieval cooking.
In combination with sweeteners and spices, it produced a distinctive "pungeant, fruity" flavor. Equally common, and used to complement the tanginess of these ingredients, were sweet almonds. They were used in a variety of ways: This last type of non-dairy milk product is probably the single most common ingredient in late medieval cooking and blended the aroma of spices and sour liquids with a mild taste and creamy texture. Salt was ubiquitous and indispensable in medieval cooking.
Salting and drying was the most common form of food preservation and meant that fish and meat in particular were often heavily salted. Many medieval recipes specifically warn against oversalting and there were recommendations for soaking certain products in water to get rid of excess salt. The richer the host, and the more prestigious the guest, the more elaborate would be the container in which it was served and the higher the quality and price of the salt.