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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

IMEMS/Blackfriars 9th Public Lecture: Sauces and New Growth: Medieval Food in Spring’

17th March 2016, 17:30, Joachim Room, St Hild & St Bede College., Caroline Yeldham

All are welcome to attend.

Medieval diet was constrained by two major factors, no matter how wealthy an individual was. The first was seasonal, preservation and storage were limited, so most food was eaten fresh, and in season. The second was religious, which imposed a weekly and annual pattern on fasting and therefore on feasting. The interaction between the two creates the dietary background to everyday life for saints, ecclesiastics and the laity.

Consumption of meat and meat products was the first to be constrained by these religious demands. How people responded to these demands varied, and have often been discussed with humour today. However, there is no denying that fish, in various forms, was the most important replacement for fasting days.

How people, especially cooks, dealt with these limitations, are reflected in the surviving recipe books. Green sauce was a very common sauce, frequently associated with fish consumption. This paper discusses how medieval people dealt with the limitations, with specific emphasis on the use of green sauce, and the changes in the recipes for this medieval stand-by.

The lecture is jointly sponsored by the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and the College of St Hild and St Bede.

Contact for more information about this event.