By Alison Sim
A readable assessment of Tudor nutrition and consuming habits.
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Additional info for Food and Feast in Tudor England
This ladder included not only humanity itself, but the whole of Creation, with animals, plants, minerals, etc. all having their own place on the ladder beneath man, and with saints, heavenly beings and, of course, God himself above man. The situation was not as fixed as it might seem, though. Just as in any age, some once-powerful families found themselves going down the ladder while new families replaced them. There were also lots of people fighting at all levels over who should take precedence.
Fruit which did survive the long sea journey, like oranges and lemons, was a very expensive luxury. The range and availability of fruit did begin to improve in the sixteenth century, however. There was an increased interest in gardening and new varieties began to be imported from the Continent. Harrison comments in 1587 that a wider range of plums was available than ever before, and W. 16 Peaches were certainly being grown at the time, though not many varieties. However, by the time Thomas Johnson revised John Gerard’s Herball in 1633 several varieties were mentioned.
There were times when the sumptuary laws could be ignored, notably at weddings, and when entertaining nobles and ambassadors, when lavish meals would be seen as honouring an important guest. If you were entertaining someone of higher degree than yourself you were allowed to dine according to the higher person’s estate. This need to impress naturally affected the cooking of the period. Cookery books of the time go into long and loving detail about how to make dishes into elaborate shapes. For example, a pig’s stomach is filled with ground pork and spices and covered all over with blanched almonds so as to look like a hedgehog.
Food and Feast in Tudor England by Alison Sim