15 Gross Medieval Foods That People Actually Ate

Published March 8, 2018
Updated May 17, 2019

From roasted cat to hedgehog, it's safe to say that you probably wouldn't be able to stomach most of these medieval foods.

Beaver Tail Medieval Foods
Medieval Foods At Dinner
Medieval Roast Cat
Preparing Medieval Foods
15 Gross Medieval Foods That People Actually Ate
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Our eating habits have transformed drastically over the centuries in both the food we eat and the way we eat it. For example, most of us consider breakfast, lunch, and dinner vitally important meals that are not to be skipped if one can help it. Yet the Romans did not see it that way and stuck to only eating one big meal at noon. Anything else was seen as gluttony, and no one wanted to be a glutton.

This changed somewhat during the Middle Ages in that two meals a day – dinner at noon and supper in the evening – became the norm. Snacking was also quite common, albeit mostly among commoners and those performing manual labor.

According to some sources, breakfast was seen as a weakness and a form of gluttony by the church. But while upper classes could afford to skip breakfast, working-class men and women could not.

Interestingly, some sources suggest that during the Middle Ages, the church advocated that the whole household eat together which meant no separation between lords and ladies and servants during the meal. Of course, the rich were not so keen on this form of dining, and towards the end of the Middle Ages often sought privacy when eating their meals.

While medieval foods weren't so different from the meals we eat today – think bread, porridge, pasta and vegetables for the poor and meat and spices for the rich – the way it was prepared often differed greatly from the way we prepare our food today.

Indeed, if one flicks through a recipe book from the Middle Ages one may be alarmed by the dishes suggested. It seems that roasted swans, peacocks, cats, and hedgehogs were rather popular for the nobility.

Furthermore, seeing as entertainment options back in the day were certainly scarcer than today, people came up with innovative and unique ways of amusing themselves during dinner.

For instance, they had roasted peacocks adorned in their own feathers and "live pies," which consisted of pastry stuffed with live frogs, served to keep dinner guests delighted and entertained all night long.

Enjoy this look at weird medieval foods? After this, why not have a look at the most painful medieval medical procedures. Then, why not learn more about medieval knights.

Laura Martisiute
Laura Martisiute is a freelance writer based in Tramore, Ireland. In her spare time, she likes to explore secret beaches, pet cats, and read.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Martisiute, Laura. "15 Gross Medieval Foods That People Actually Ate." AllThatsInteresting.com, March 8, 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/weird-medieval-foods. Accessed May 23, 2024.