Posted by: internationalroutier | March 16, 2010

Common Foods of 17thC England

Not an exhaustive list by any means but a good start anyway. We used a version of this list on our Linnwood House display and I intend to tweak it a little for this year’s displays at Linnwood house as well as the Blacktown Medieval Fair in May. Suggestions for other items to be included welcomed.

Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg & Mace
Almonds– ground & added to sauces to thicken, just like we now use cornflour
Apples– like most fruit, it was usually served cooked
Artichokes
Asparagus
Alcohol– beer, wine, cider & mead. Beer was an extremely important source of nutrients and was drunk even by children (though very low alcohol versions!)
Bread– in London bread was stamped with a ‘W’ for white; or wholemeal an ‘H’ for Housewife
Broad Beans
Beetroot
Beef
– beginning to more popular as cattle were brought from Scotland
Barley
Boar
Cabbage
Celery
– beginning to be known
Cheese– Cheddar, Chesire, Fontina among others
Chicken– once they had stopped laying or Capons fattened for the table
Currants & Raisins
Damson Plums
Eggs
Fish
– dictated by the church to be eaten on certain days. Often salted. Incl Salmon, Eel, Pike, bream, Perch
Fruit Pastilles
Garlic
Galangal
Gingerbread Pigs
– not gingerbread men as we have! A popular festival food.
Grains of Paradise– related to cardamom
Honey dew
Horseradish
Honey
– very important as a sweetener in the relative absence of sugar
Lamb
Lettuce
Leek
Lemon
– in England from 1577
Liquorice– from the late 16thC
Mulberries– since 1500’s
Mustard
Nigella
– not the chef, the spice!
Millet
(White) Nectarines
Oats
Onions
Parsnip
– used to add to bread and for sweetness
Peas– not sugar snap or snow
Pears
Pheasant, Pigeons and larks
Poppyseeds
Pork
– very important as a cured meat
Potato- from 1577, very slowly adopted- til mid 17thC
Quail
Rabbit
– already a pest by the late 13thC
Radish– long, white variety
Rosewater– used in many sweet and savoury dishes
Rye
Saffron

Shallots
Sorrel
Spinach
– not silverbeet until 18thC
Strawberries
Swede
– 1620 hybrid of cabbage and turnip
Sweet Potato– never became popular though Henry VIII apparently loved it
Venision– for the rich even then!
Wheat

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Responses

  1. Good to consider what foods are in and out – also, its worth remembering that the varieties (esp. of vegetables) have changed significantly over the years through selective breeding. I used to have some pictures somewhere but ….

  2. What what I meant to say – is the way vegetables looked have changed – so todays celery looks very different to celery from 200+ years ago.

  3. I’d like the chef, not the spice thanks.

  4. Hurrah! I’ve always wanted one of these…

  5. What about carrots? Original types or House of Orange variety?


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