Food items, drinks, and, meals varied in Elizabethan era according to the status and wealth of the people. Many dishes were introduced; many more were improved by the way of agricultural techniques. But the meals of Elizabethans had fixed timings. They used to have three meals a day. Even the lower class people had three meals a day, but their food was less elaborate than the upper class.
The royalty, upper classes and the nobility used to eat their meals in silverware. On the contrary, lower classes in Elizabethan England used to eat their meals in wooden or horn dishes. They used to have their breakfast in the morning between 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. It included food and drinks. Same was included in dinner which was usually eaten by the Elizabethans between 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. The supper was the substantial meal which the Elizabethans had around 6 – 7 in the evening.
Elizabethans were fond of beer with their meals but it had a very little amount of alcohol in it in those days. Another interesting fact about their meals is that vegetables were looked down upon and they were usually eaten by the lower class.
What type of food did they eat in the Elizabethan era?
The upper class used to relish meat in their food besides chicken, moorcocks, beef, etc. Another fact about the vegetables at that time was that the Elizabethans considered them to be unhealthy and cheap. The Elizabethan upper class was fond of spicy as well as sweet dishes. They used to get elaborate dishes made for them.
What did lower classes eta in the Elizabethan era?
The meals of the people belonging to the lower classes contained bread, porridge, meat and usually a pint of beer. Sometimes, they were accompanied by diary products, but dairy products were expensive. Vegetables were also consumed by the lower classes.
What did peasants eat in the Elizabethan era?
The peasants usually grew their own food, which included beans, wheat, barley, rye etc. The peasant families had vegetable gardens and used vegetables in their daily meals. Soups were also popular among the poorer sections of the society.
The soups consisted of onions, peas, reddish, carrots, beans and were very nutritious and healthy. The vegetables were loathed by the upper-classes and hence, they were left for the peasants and lower-classes to consume.
Elizabethan Era Lunch
The mid-day meal, also called dinner was eaten at 11 or 12 o’clock. The upper-classes often extended the mid-day meals to feasting that would last all day. It also depended upon the type of food they were eating.
Usually, there would be bread, a variety of meat and fish, wildfowl etc. These foods were too expensive for the majority of the population of England and the middle and lowe-classes usually ate bread, meat and soup. The upper-classes loved spicy as well as sweet dishes. Sugar was also expensive in those days.
Every member of the royal family and the nobility had their own knife and fork and the utensils were silverware. Spoons were not very common. Foods were generally served cold.
The lower-classes ate their meals in wooden or horn utensils.
Elizabethan Era Drinks
The knife was the most common form of cutlery in the meals of people of the Elizabethan era. Spoons were hardly used by them as they had the habit of drinking everything from the cup. They even used to drink soup in cups instead of having it with a spoon.
Forks were introduced late in that century, so, it is clear that the knife was the most important element of their crockery. Another interesting fact is that the kitchen in large houses was situated far from the great hall in those days, and, therefore, the food was served usually cold.
Food in the days of Elizabeth 1 was cooked over an open flame by various methods like baking, boiling, fried, and, roasting. Utensils used for cooking were pots, pans, kettles, cauldrons, and, skillets. Wine and ale was more common a part of the meal than water.
Elizabethan era Desserts
People in the Elizabethan era loved desserts. Common dessert items were cakes, pastries, jelly, custard sugar bread, gingerbread, pudding etc. The bread was a staple item in Elizabethan meals and was eaten with a lot of other things.
Shrewsbury cake and Shrewsbury biscuits were popular English desserts. They were made of sugar, butter, flour, eggs and lemon zest. Fruit cakes were also eaten occasionally.
Elizabethan Era Food Preparation
Elizabethan foods were usually cooked in an open flame. Pots, pans, cauldrons, skillets were the common utensils used. Different kinds of knives, ladles and forks were used to cook the meals.
Elizabethan cooks often used a baking tray, known as ‘coffin’ which was made of hardened pastry. The cooks who served the nobility always kept a recipe book with themselves. The kitchens used to at a distance from the dining area and therefore, the foods were carried by the servants to the table. Most dishes were warm when served.
Elizabethan Era Meals and Decorations
Elizabethan loved decorative food. Peacock feathers were used for this purpose. Different shapes were used for the presentation of different meals. Their meals had a great visual effect.
Thus, it is evident from the facts given above that Elizabethans spent a lot on their meals. The amount spent on their meals was so much so that about £21,000 was spent on the diet and meals of Queen Elizabeth 1 every year. Meals in the Elizabethan era were fixed and detailed.