If you’ve ever seen a depiction of a medieval feast in television or movies before, chances are that the word “feast” automatically brings to mind huge haunches of pork and plentiful loaves of rustic looking bread, all washed down with a hearty stein of beer or mead. Although kings did in fact eat plenty of meat and bread, the dishes served in medieval courts were in fact surprisingly sophisticated and elegant. Here are some of the surprising dishes that medieval kings were likely to have at the vast majority of their meals.
Although kings did eat plenty of domesticated lamb, pork, and beef, their meals also featured a lot of wild game. Venison and duck were commonly roasted and served, as were smaller game birds like quail, partridge, and pigeons. These meats were considered more delicate and flavorful than livestock, and were therefore very much appropriate for the king’s meals.
Oftentimes, medieval European fare is portrayed as greying and dull, almost entirely devoid of flavor before eastern merchants brought along spices from Asia. In truth, the meats and vegetables eaten by royals in medieval Europe were in fact quite flavorful. They grew a wide array of herbs like thyme, basil, mint, and rosemary in their gardens, and roasted meats with plenty of greenery.
Many of the carbohydrates consumed by kings took the form of pastries. These delicately crafted delights were specially made by kitchen servants, who often used fanciful shapes and construction to liven up otherwise unexciting breads. Pastries were often stuffed with meat, jams, and other treats.
Essentially, kings ate in a luxurious and surprisingly modern way. In many cases, the dishes served to royalty in medieval times only differed from modern delicacies in terms of exact preparation, not ingredients.