Medieval Cooking

Open fires provided the means to cook food as well as a source of heat for most people. Peasants and less wealthy people cooked on the fire in the centre of their houses. There was little ventilation and there were no chimneys, so it could get very smoky inside. Food was also cooked outside, as it was safer. A fire inside the house could easily spread and burn the house down. In large households there would be an open fire in a large kitchen built of stone. The cooks would have had many pots, pans, spoons, and knives to cook with and a large wooden table on which to prepare foods.

Anthing that required boiling was made in large pots and cauldrons made of iron or brass. The pots were hung over an open ifre or placed on top of a metal trivet that sat on the fire. The fire was fueled by wood or charcoal. Meat could be roasted on a spit over the fire, but this was expensive, as it used up a lot of wood. Meat and fish could also be grilled on a grid of metal bars called a grid-iron. For those without bread ovens in their homes, villages and towns had communal ovens where bread could be bked for a fee. In towns and cities people could pay a baker to bake their bread for them. There were also shops that would roast meat for people.

Eggs, beans, meat, and fish were fried on top of the fire in pans. In southern Europe, olive oil was used for frying. In other parts of Europe animal fat was used if it was available and affordable.

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