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Social codes made it difficult for women to uphold the ideal of immaculate neatness and delicacy while enjoying a meal, so the wife of the host often dined in private with her entourage or ate very little at such feasts. This was a big plus. 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. Vinidarius' own dates may not be much earlier. 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. Who knew that more is sometimes less? If drinking continues, healthy liver tissue is gradually replaced by non-functioning scar tissue, a process known as cirrhosis.
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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. Wealthy guests were seated " above the salt ", while others sat "below the salt", where salt cellars were made of pewter, precious metals or other fine materials, often intricately decorated.
The rank of a diner also decided how finely ground and white the salt was. Salt for cooking, preservation or for use by common people was coarser; sea salt, or "bay salt", in particular, had more impurities, and was described in colors ranging from black to green.
The husky dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs and wolves for transportation. The Inuit used stars to navigate at sea and landmarks to navigate on land; they possessed a comprehensive native system of toponymy. Where natural landmarks were insufficient, the Inuit would erect an inukshuk. Dogs played an integral role in the annual routine of the Inuit.
Yearlong they assisted with hunting by sniffing out seals' holes and pestering polar bears. They also protected the Inuit villages by barking at bears and strangers. The Inuit generally favored, and tried to breed, the most striking and handsome of dogs, especially ones with bright eyes and a healthy coat. The Inuit would perform rituals over the newborn pup to give it favorable qualities; the legs were pulled to make them grow strong and the nose was poked with a pin to enhance the sense of smell.
Inuit industry relied almost exclusively on animal hides, driftwood , and bones, although some tools were also made out of worked stones, particularly the readily worked soapstone.
Walrus ivory was a particularly essential material, used to make knives. Art played a big part in Inuit society and continues to do so today. Small sculptures of animals and human figures, usually depicting everyday activities such as hunting and whaling, were carved from ivory and bone. In modern times prints and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone , serpentinite , or argillite have also become popular.
Inuit made clothes and footwear from animal skins, sewn together using needles made from animal bones and threads made from other animal products, such as sinew. The anorak parka is made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including the Inuit.
The hood of an amauti , women's parka, plural amautiit was traditionally made extra large with a separate compartment below the hood to allow the mother to carry a baby against her back and protect it from the harsh wind.
Styles vary from region to region, from the shape of the hood to the length of the tails. Boots mukluk or kamik  , could be made of caribou or seal skin, and designed for men and women. During the winter, certain Inuit lived in a temporary shelter made from snow called an igloo , and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents, known as tupiq ,  made of animal skins supported by a frame of bones or wood.
The division of labor in traditional Inuit society had a strong gender component, but it was not absolute. The men were traditionally hunters and fishermen and the women took care of the children, cleaned the home, sewed, processed food, and cooked. However, there are numerous examples of women who hunted, out of necessity or as a personal choice. At the same time men, who could be away from camp for several days at a time, would be expected to know how to sew and cook. The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous: Open marriages , polygamy , divorce , and remarriage were known.
Among some Inuit groups, if there were children, divorce required the approval of the community and particularly the agreement of the elders. Marriages were often arranged , sometimes in infancy , and occasionally forced on the couple by the community. Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters.
Family structure was flexible: Every household had its head, an elder or a particularly respected man. There was also a larger notion of community as, generally, several families shared a place where they wintered. Goods were shared within a household, and also, to a significant extent, within a whole community. The Inuit were hunter—gatherers ,  and have been referred to as nomadic. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth.
Virtually all Inuit cultures have oral traditions of raids by other indigenous peoples, including fellow Inuit, and of taking vengeance on them in return, such as the Bloody Falls massacre.
Western observers often regarded these tales as generally not entirely accurate historical accounts, but more as self-serving myths. However, evidence shows that Inuit cultures had quite accurate methods of teaching historical accounts to each new generation. The historic accounts of violence against outsiders does make clear that there was a history of hostile contact within the Inuit cultures and with other cultures.
The known confederations were usually formed to defend against a more prosperous, and thus stronger, nation. Alternately, people who lived in less productive geographical areas tended to be less warlike, as they had to spend more time producing food. Justice within Inuit culture was moderated by the form of governance that gave significant power to the elders.
As in most cultures around the world, justice could be harsh and often included capital punishment for serious crimes against the community or the individual. During raids against other peoples, the Inuit, like their non-Inuit neighbors, tended to be merciless. A pervasive European myth about Inuit is that they killed elderly senicide and "unproductive people",  but this is not generally true.
Leenaars ' book Suicide in Canada he states that " Rasmussen found that the death of elders by suicide was a commonplace among the Iglulik Inuit. According to Franz Boas , suicide was " Aged people who have outlived their usefulness and whose life is a burden both to themselves and their relatives are put to death by stabbing or strangulation.
This is customarily done at the request of the individual concerned, but not always so. Aged people who are a hindrance on the trail are abandoned. When food is not sufficient, the elderly are the least likely to survive. In the extreme case of famine , the Inuit fully understood that, if there was to be any hope of obtaining more food, a hunter was necessarily the one to feed on whatever food was left.
However, a common response to desperate conditions and the threat of starvation was infanticide. The belief that the Inuit regularly resorted to infanticide may be due in part to studies done by Asen Balikci,  Milton Freeman  and David Riches  among the Netsilik, along with the trial of Kikkik.
The research is neither complete nor conclusive to allow for a determination of whether infanticide was a rare or a widely practiced event. Anthropologists believed that Inuit cultures routinely killed children born with physical defects because of the demands of the extreme climate. These views were changed by late 20th century discoveries of burials at an archaeological site. Between and , a storm with high winds caused ocean waves to erode part of the bluffs near Barrow, Alaska , and a body was discovered to have been washed out of the mud.
Unfortunately the storm claimed the body, which was not recovered. But examination of the eroded bank indicated that an ancient house, perhaps with other remains, was likely to be claimed by the next storm.
The site, known as the "Ukkuqsi archaeological site", was excavated. Several frozen bodies now known as the "frozen family" were recovered, autopsies were performed, and they were re-interred as the first burials in the then-new Imaiqsaun Cemetery south of Barrow.
It was a female child, approximately 9 years old, who had clearly been born with a congenital birth defect. Autopsies near Greenland reveal that, more commonly pneumonia , kidney diseases , trichinosis , malnutrition , and degenerative disorders may have contributed to mass deaths among different Inuit tribes.
The Inuit believed that the causes of the disease were of a spiritual origin. More common among the Canadian Inuit than it is among non-indigenous southern Canadians. In the incidence in Nunavut Was per , — more than 66 times the rate seen in the general population". Inuit traditional laws are anthropologically different from Western law concepts. Customary law was thought non-existent in Inuit society before the introduction of the Canadian legal system.
Hoebel , in , concluded that only 'rudimentary law' existed amongst the Inuit. Indeed, prior to about , it is impossible to find even one reference to a Western observer who was aware that any form of governance existed among any Inuit,  however, there was a set way of doing things that had to be followed:.
If an individual's actions went against the tirigusuusiit, maligait or piqujait, the angakkuq shaman might have to intervene, lest the consequences be dire to the individual or the community. We are told today that Inuit never had laws or "maligait". They say because they are not written on paper. When I think of paper, I think you can tear it up, and the laws are gone. The laws of the Inuit are not on paper.
The environment in which the Inuit lived inspired a mythology filled with adventure tales of whale and walrus hunts. Long winter months of waiting for caribou herds or sitting near breathing holes hunting seals gave birth to stories of mysterious and sudden appearance of ghosts and fantastic creatures. Some Inuit looked into the aurora borealis , or northern lights, to find images of their family and friends dancing in the next life.
This tale is still told to children today. The nearest thing to a central deity was the Old Woman Sedna , who lived beneath the sea. The waters, a central food source, were believed to contain great gods. The Inuit practiced a form of shamanism based on animist principles. They believed that all things had a form of spirit, including humans, and that to some extent these spirits could be influenced by a pantheon of supernatural entities that could be appeased when one required some animal or inanimate thing to act in a certain way.
The angakkuq of a community of Inuit was not the leader, but rather a sort of healer and psychotherapist , who tended wounds and offered advice, as well as invoking the spirits to assist people in their lives. His or her role was to see, interpret and exhort the subtle and unseen. Angakkuit were not trained; they were held to be born with the ability and recognized by the community as they approached adulthood.
Inuit religion was closely tied to a system of rituals integrated into the daily life of the people. These rituals were simple but held to be necessary. According to a customary Inuit saying,. By believing that all things, including animals, have souls like those of humans, any hunt that failed to show appropriate respect and customary supplication would only give the liberated spirits cause to avenge themselves.
The harshness and unpredictability of life in the Arctic ensured that Inuit lived with concern for the uncontrollable, where a streak of bad luck could destroy an entire community.
To offend a spirit was to risk its interference with an already marginal existence. The Inuit understood that they had to work in harmony with supernatural powers to provide the necessities of day-to-day life. Although the 50,  Inuit listed in the Canada Census can be found throughout Canada the majority, 44,, live in four regions. As of the Canada Census there were 4, Inuit living in Newfoundland and Labrador  and about 2, live in Nunatsiavut.
As of the Canada Census there were 24, Inuit living in Nunavut. As of the Canada Census there were 10, Inuit living in Quebec. The population size of Greenlandic people in Denmark varies from source to source between 15, and 20, According to figures from Statistics Denmark there are 15, people residing in Denmark of Greenlandic Inuit ancestry. Nonetheless, it has come together with other circumpolar cultural and political groups to promote the Inuit and other northern people in their fight against ecological problems such as climate change which disproportionately affects the Inuit population.
At that event they signed the Nuuk Declaration. They are officially represented by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and, in , received a comprehensive land claims settlement, the first in Northern Canada, with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. This agreement called for the separation of the Northwest Territories into an eastern territory whose Aboriginal population would be predominately Inuit,  the future Nunavut, and a rump Northwest Territories in the west.
It was the largest land claims agreement in Canadian history. The Canadian Parliament passed the supporting legislation in June of the same year, enabling the establishment of Nunavut as a territorial entity. With the establishment of Nunatsiavut in , almost all the traditional Inuit lands in Canada, with the exception NunatuKavut in central and South Labrador, are now covered by some sort of land claims agreement providing for regional autonomy.
Although still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark along with Denmark proper and the Faroe Islands , Greenland, known as Kalaallit Nunaat in the Greenlandic language , maintains much autonomy today. Their economy is based on fishing and shrimping. The Thule people arrived in Greenland in the 13th century. There they encountered the Norsemen, who had established colonies there since the late 10th century, as well as a later wave of the Dorset people.
Because most of Greenland is covered in ice, the Greenland Inuit or Kalaallit only live in coastal settlements, particularly the northern polar coast, the eastern Amassalik coast and the central coasts of western Greenland. European Colonization of Alaska started in the 18th century by Russia. By the s, the Russian government was considering ridding itself of its Russian America colony.
Alaska was officially incorporated to United States on January 3, Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States , is in the Inupiat region. Their language is Iñupiaq which is the singular form of Inupiat. Inuit art , carving, print making, textiles and Inuit throat singing , are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known.
Canada has adopted some of the Inuit culture as national symbols, using Inuit cultural icons like the inukshuk in unlikely places, such as its use as a symbol at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Respected art galleries display Inuit art, the largest collection of which is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Some Inuit languages, such as Inuktitut, appears to have a more secure future in Quebec and Nunavut. There are a surprising number of Inuit, even those who now live in urban centres such as Ottawa , Montreal and Winnipeg , who have experienced living on the land in the traditional life style. Inuit culture is alive and vibrant today in spite of the negative impacts of recent history. An important biennial event, the Arctic Winter Games , is held in communities across the northern regions of the world, featuring traditional Inuit and northern sports as part of the events.
A cultural event is also held. The games were first held in , and while rotated usually among Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, they have also been held in Schefferville, Quebec in , in Slave Lake , Alberta , and a joint Iqaluit, Nunavut- Nuuk , Greenland staging in In other sporting events, Jordin Tootoo became the first Inuk to play in the National Hockey League in the —04 season, playing for the Nashville Predators. Although Inuit life has changed significantly over the past century, many traditions continue.
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit , or traditional knowledge, such as storytelling, mythology, music , and dancing remain important parts of the culture. Family and community are very important. The Inuktitut language is still spoken in many areas of the Arctic and is common on radio and in television programming. In May after being re-elected for her second term, Ms. In July she was sworn in as the Minister of the Environment. Visual and performing arts are strong.
In the first feature film in Inuktitut, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner , was released worldwide to great critical and popular acclaim. It was directed by Zacharias Kunuk , and written, filmed, produced, directed, and acted almost entirely by the Inuit of Igloolik.
Susan Aglukark is a popular singer. Mitiarjuk Attasie Nappaaluk worked at preserving Inuktitut and wrote one of the first novels ever published in that language. Recently, there has been an identity struggle among the younger generations of Inuit, between their traditional heritage and the modern society which their cultures have been forced to assimilate into in order to maintain a livelihood. With current dependence on modern society for necessities, including governmental jobs, food, aid, medicine, etc.
The stressors regarding the identity crisis among teenagers have led to disturbingly high numbers of suicide. A series of authors has focused upon the increasing myopia in the youngest generations of Inuit.
Myopia was almost unknown prior to the Inuit adoption of western culture. Principal theories are the change to a western style diet with more refined foods, and extended education. David Pisurayak Kootook was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, posthumously, for his heroic efforts in a plane crash.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the film, see Inuk film. For other uses of Inuit, see Inuit disambiguation. Indigenous cultures Indigenous personalities Country food Music. Traditional beliefs Inuit religion. Eskimo kinship and Inuit women. Suicide in Greenland and Suicide among Canadian aboriginal people. Leenaars, Suicide in Canada . Inuit mythology and Shamanism among Eskimo peoples.
Kalaallit and History of Greenland. Retrieved October 20, United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 25, Retrieved 17 Oct Archived from the original on 2 November Retrieved 1 August Which names to use? Department of Justice Canada. Archived from the original on Inuit, Métis and First Nations, Census: Concise Historical Atlas of Canada. University of Toronto Press. Louis Gentilcore; Geoffrey J. Historical Atlas of Canada.
Archived from the original PDF on Penguin University of California. A Prehistory of the North: Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes. Vanished Mystery Men of Hudson Bay. Library and Archives Canada. National Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original PDF on May 14, Perrin; Bernd Wursig; J. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. The Historical Linguistics of Native America , pg. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol.
Retrieved 18 Oct Stern 27 July Historical Dictionary of the Inuit. Language of the Inuit: Syntax, Semantics, and Society in the Arctic. Not included are the myriad of other species of plants and animals that Inuit use, such as geese, ducks, rabbits, ptarmigan, swans, halibut, clams, mussels, cod, berries and seaweed.
An Oral History of Nunavut. For some, these foods were a treat; Am J Clin Nutr.