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What’s for Dinner? Depends on the Century #Food #History #Research by @LyndiLamont

November 16, 2017 by in category The Romance Journey tagged as , , , , with 2 and 0
Home > Columns > The Romance Journey > What’s for Dinner? Depends on the Century #Food #History #Research by @LyndiLamont

Since Thanksgiving is a week away, it’s only natural that many of us are thinking about food. I love autumn and all the wonderful dishes that make up the traditional Thanksgiving feast, but did you know how many of them are New World foods?

Roasted Turkey On Harvest Table – c. evgenyb – license from Bigstock.com

The food supply expanded when Columbus “discovered” the New World. There were no potatoes, yams, tomatoes, pumpkins turkeys or maize (Indian corn) in the Middle Ages.

In Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s (& Editor’s) Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths, author Susanne Alleyn takes a swipe at Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage in the Disney movie. The carriage it doesn’t bother me so much, since Disney’s Cinderella is apparently set in the 18th century, if the gowns are anything to go on. At least it’s an improvement on the scene in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the Huntsman leads Snow White into an American forest. I’m pretty sure I spotted a raccoon and an alligator. (Known fact: You can’t trust Hollywood when it comes to research.)

There was also no chocolate, no tea and no coffee in the Middle Ages. Peasants drank beer at every meal. The nobility drank wine. The introduction of coffee and tea in the 17th century helped to sober up Europe for the Industrial Revolution, thank goodness. Even the sober Pilgrims and Puritans drank beer in the 1600’s. If you’re writing a Medieval romance, don’t show your characters drinking tea, even if it’s herbal. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese, and didn’t enter the English language until around 1655. Herbal infusions, sometimes called tisannes, were mainly used for medicinal purposes.

Chocolate is native to the Americas, so the Spaniards were the first Europeans to encounter it. It became popular at court after the Spanish added sugar or honey to sweeten the natural bitterness. From there, chocolate spread through Europe in the 1600’s, and how thankful I am that it did. The best hot chocolate I’ve ever had was the dark, molten variety you find in France.

coffee & chocolate

coffee & chocolate, image licensed from Deposit Photos

Coffee drinking started in Arabia in the middle of the 15th century and had spread to Europe in the 16th century. It became more popular after 1600 when Pope Clement VIII declared it a “Christian” beverage. When Britain cut off America’s tea supply during the War of 1812, Americans turned to coffee and we’ve been a coffee-drinking nation ever since.

Tea comes from Asia and was introduced to Holland in 1610, in common use by 1675; introduced to England about 1660, where it steadily increased in popularity. The ritual we know as afternoon tea didn’t start until the 1840s. Afternoon tea was for the idle rich and includes finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. High tea, which isn’t nearly as grand as it sounds, was the name for the evening meal used by the working class and features a hot dish like a meat pie or stew.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda McLaughlin w/a Lyndi Lamont
Website: https://lindalyndi.com

2 Comments

  • Veronica Jorge
    on November 16, 2017

    Thanks for that interesting info. Incredible how a mesh of travels and cultures have made foods and beverages such staples and “must haves” at our daily tables. When do we eat?

  • Linda McLaughlin
    on November 16, 2017

    So glad you found the article of value, Veronica.

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