The laws of the Inuit are not on paper. For practical reasons, breakfast was still eaten by working men, and was tolerated for young children, women, the elderly and the sick. It was a female child, approximately 9 years old, who had clearly been born with a congenital birth defect. Though studies have shown it to be ineffective for athletics, and research into its immune system boosting effects are also limited. She could then join dinner only after the potentially messy business of eating was done.
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The Inuit used stars to navigate at sea and landmarks to navigate on land; they possessed a comprehensive native system of toponymy. Where natural landmarks were insufficient, the Inuit would erect an inukshuk. Dogs played an integral role in the annual routine of the Inuit. Yearlong they assisted with hunting by sniffing out seals' holes and pestering polar bears. They also protected the Inuit villages by barking at bears and strangers.
The Inuit generally favored, and tried to breed, the most striking and handsome of dogs, especially ones with bright eyes and a healthy coat. The Inuit would perform rituals over the newborn pup to give it favorable qualities; the legs were pulled to make them grow strong and the nose was poked with a pin to enhance the sense of smell.
Inuit industry relied almost exclusively on animal hides, driftwood , and bones, although some tools were also made out of worked stones, particularly the readily worked soapstone. Walrus ivory was a particularly essential material, used to make knives.
Art played a big part in Inuit society and continues to do so today. Small sculptures of animals and human figures, usually depicting everyday activities such as hunting and whaling, were carved from ivory and bone. In modern times prints and figurative works carved in relatively soft stone such as soapstone , serpentinite , or argillite have also become popular. Inuit made clothes and footwear from animal skins, sewn together using needles made from animal bones and threads made from other animal products, such as sinew.
The anorak parka is made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including the Inuit. The hood of an amauti , women's parka, plural amautiit was traditionally made extra large with a separate compartment below the hood to allow the mother to carry a baby against her back and protect it from the harsh wind. Styles vary from region to region, from the shape of the hood to the length of the tails. Boots mukluk or kamik  , could be made of caribou or seal skin, and designed for men and women.
During the winter, certain Inuit lived in a temporary shelter made from snow called an igloo , and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents, known as tupiq ,  made of animal skins supported by a frame of bones or wood.
The division of labor in traditional Inuit society had a strong gender component, but it was not absolute. The men were traditionally hunters and fishermen and the women took care of the children, cleaned the home, sewed, processed food, and cooked.
However, there are numerous examples of women who hunted, out of necessity or as a personal choice. At the same time men, who could be away from camp for several days at a time, would be expected to know how to sew and cook. The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous: Open marriages , polygamy , divorce , and remarriage were known. Among some Inuit groups, if there were children, divorce required the approval of the community and particularly the agreement of the elders.
Marriages were often arranged , sometimes in infancy , and occasionally forced on the couple by the community. Marriage was common for women at puberty and for men when they became productive hunters. Family structure was flexible: Every household had its head, an elder or a particularly respected man. There was also a larger notion of community as, generally, several families shared a place where they wintered. Goods were shared within a household, and also, to a significant extent, within a whole community.
The Inuit were hunter—gatherers ,  and have been referred to as nomadic. Loud singing and drumming were also customary after a birth. Virtually all Inuit cultures have oral traditions of raids by other indigenous peoples, including fellow Inuit, and of taking vengeance on them in return, such as the Bloody Falls massacre.
Western observers often regarded these tales as generally not entirely accurate historical accounts, but more as self-serving myths.
However, evidence shows that Inuit cultures had quite accurate methods of teaching historical accounts to each new generation. The historic accounts of violence against outsiders does make clear that there was a history of hostile contact within the Inuit cultures and with other cultures. The known confederations were usually formed to defend against a more prosperous, and thus stronger, nation.
Alternately, people who lived in less productive geographical areas tended to be less warlike, as they had to spend more time producing food.
Justice within Inuit culture was moderated by the form of governance that gave significant power to the elders. As in most cultures around the world, justice could be harsh and often included capital punishment for serious crimes against the community or the individual.
During raids against other peoples, the Inuit, like their non-Inuit neighbors, tended to be merciless. A pervasive European myth about Inuit is that they killed elderly senicide and "unproductive people",  but this is not generally true.
Leenaars ' book Suicide in Canada he states that " Rasmussen found that the death of elders by suicide was a commonplace among the Iglulik Inuit. According to Franz Boas , suicide was " Aged people who have outlived their usefulness and whose life is a burden both to themselves and their relatives are put to death by stabbing or strangulation. This is customarily done at the request of the individual concerned, but not always so. Aged people who are a hindrance on the trail are abandoned.
When food is not sufficient, the elderly are the least likely to survive. In the extreme case of famine , the Inuit fully understood that, if there was to be any hope of obtaining more food, a hunter was necessarily the one to feed on whatever food was left. However, a common response to desperate conditions and the threat of starvation was infanticide. The belief that the Inuit regularly resorted to infanticide may be due in part to studies done by Asen Balikci,  Milton Freeman  and David Riches  among the Netsilik, along with the trial of Kikkik.
The research is neither complete nor conclusive to allow for a determination of whether infanticide was a rare or a widely practiced event. Anthropologists believed that Inuit cultures routinely killed children born with physical defects because of the demands of the extreme climate.
These views were changed by late 20th century discoveries of burials at an archaeological site. Between and , a storm with high winds caused ocean waves to erode part of the bluffs near Barrow, Alaska , and a body was discovered to have been washed out of the mud.
Unfortunately the storm claimed the body, which was not recovered. But examination of the eroded bank indicated that an ancient house, perhaps with other remains, was likely to be claimed by the next storm. The site, known as the "Ukkuqsi archaeological site", was excavated.
Several frozen bodies now known as the "frozen family" were recovered, autopsies were performed, and they were re-interred as the first burials in the then-new Imaiqsaun Cemetery south of Barrow. It was a female child, approximately 9 years old, who had clearly been born with a congenital birth defect. Autopsies near Greenland reveal that, more commonly pneumonia , kidney diseases , trichinosis , malnutrition , and degenerative disorders may have contributed to mass deaths among different Inuit tribes.
The Inuit believed that the causes of the disease were of a spiritual origin. More common among the Canadian Inuit than it is among non-indigenous southern Canadians. In the incidence in Nunavut Was per , — more than 66 times the rate seen in the general population".
Inuit traditional laws are anthropologically different from Western law concepts. Customary law was thought non-existent in Inuit society before the introduction of the Canadian legal system. Hoebel , in , concluded that only 'rudimentary law' existed amongst the Inuit. Indeed, prior to about , it is impossible to find even one reference to a Western observer who was aware that any form of governance existed among any Inuit,  however, there was a set way of doing things that had to be followed:.
If an individual's actions went against the tirigusuusiit, maligait or piqujait, the angakkuq shaman might have to intervene, lest the consequences be dire to the individual or the community. We are told today that Inuit never had laws or "maligait". They say because they are not written on paper. When I think of paper, I think you can tear it up, and the laws are gone. The laws of the Inuit are not on paper. The environment in which the Inuit lived inspired a mythology filled with adventure tales of whale and walrus hunts.
Long winter months of waiting for caribou herds or sitting near breathing holes hunting seals gave birth to stories of mysterious and sudden appearance of ghosts and fantastic creatures.
Some Inuit looked into the aurora borealis , or northern lights, to find images of their family and friends dancing in the next life. This tale is still told to children today. The nearest thing to a central deity was the Old Woman Sedna , who lived beneath the sea.
The waters, a central food source, were believed to contain great gods. The Inuit practiced a form of shamanism based on animist principles. They believed that all things had a form of spirit, including humans, and that to some extent these spirits could be influenced by a pantheon of supernatural entities that could be appeased when one required some animal or inanimate thing to act in a certain way. The angakkuq of a community of Inuit was not the leader, but rather a sort of healer and psychotherapist , who tended wounds and offered advice, as well as invoking the spirits to assist people in their lives.
His or her role was to see, interpret and exhort the subtle and unseen. Angakkuit were not trained; they were held to be born with the ability and recognized by the community as they approached adulthood. Inuit religion was closely tied to a system of rituals integrated into the daily life of the people.
These rituals were simple but held to be necessary. According to a customary Inuit saying,. By believing that all things, including animals, have souls like those of humans, any hunt that failed to show appropriate respect and customary supplication would only give the liberated spirits cause to avenge themselves.
The harshness and unpredictability of life in the Arctic ensured that Inuit lived with concern for the uncontrollable, where a streak of bad luck could destroy an entire community.
To offend a spirit was to risk its interference with an already marginal existence. The Inuit understood that they had to work in harmony with supernatural powers to provide the necessities of day-to-day life. Although the 50,  Inuit listed in the Canada Census can be found throughout Canada the majority, 44,, live in four regions. As of the Canada Census there were 4, Inuit living in Newfoundland and Labrador  and about 2, live in Nunatsiavut. As of the Canada Census there were 24, Inuit living in Nunavut.
As of the Canada Census there were 10, Inuit living in Quebec. The population size of Greenlandic people in Denmark varies from source to source between 15, and 20, According to figures from Statistics Denmark there are 15, people residing in Denmark of Greenlandic Inuit ancestry. Nonetheless, it has come together with other circumpolar cultural and political groups to promote the Inuit and other northern people in their fight against ecological problems such as climate change which disproportionately affects the Inuit population.
At that event they signed the Nuuk Declaration. They are officially represented by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and, in , received a comprehensive land claims settlement, the first in Northern Canada, with the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. This agreement called for the separation of the Northwest Territories into an eastern territory whose Aboriginal population would be predominately Inuit,  the future Nunavut, and a rump Northwest Territories in the west.
It was the largest land claims agreement in Canadian history. The Canadian Parliament passed the supporting legislation in June of the same year, enabling the establishment of Nunavut as a territorial entity. With the establishment of Nunatsiavut in , almost all the traditional Inuit lands in Canada, with the exception NunatuKavut in central and South Labrador, are now covered by some sort of land claims agreement providing for regional autonomy.
Although still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark along with Denmark proper and the Faroe Islands , Greenland, known as Kalaallit Nunaat in the Greenlandic language , maintains much autonomy today. Their economy is based on fishing and shrimping. The Thule people arrived in Greenland in the 13th century. There they encountered the Norsemen, who had established colonies there since the late 10th century, as well as a later wave of the Dorset people.
Because most of Greenland is covered in ice, the Greenland Inuit or Kalaallit only live in coastal settlements, particularly the northern polar coast, the eastern Amassalik coast and the central coasts of western Greenland. European Colonization of Alaska started in the 18th century by Russia. By the s, the Russian government was considering ridding itself of its Russian America colony.
Alaska was officially incorporated to United States on January 3, Barrow, the northernmost city in the United States , is in the Inupiat region. Their language is Iñupiaq which is the singular form of Inupiat. Inuit art , carving, print making, textiles and Inuit throat singing , are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known.
Canada has adopted some of the Inuit culture as national symbols, using Inuit cultural icons like the inukshuk in unlikely places, such as its use as a symbol at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Respected art galleries display Inuit art, the largest collection of which is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Some Inuit languages, such as Inuktitut, appears to have a more secure future in Quebec and Nunavut.
There are a surprising number of Inuit, even those who now live in urban centres such as Ottawa , Montreal and Winnipeg , who have experienced living on the land in the traditional life style. Inuit culture is alive and vibrant today in spite of the negative impacts of recent history.
An important biennial event, the Arctic Winter Games , is held in communities across the northern regions of the world, featuring traditional Inuit and northern sports as part of the events. A cultural event is also held. The games were first held in , and while rotated usually among Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, they have also been held in Schefferville, Quebec in , in Slave Lake , Alberta , and a joint Iqaluit, Nunavut- Nuuk , Greenland staging in In other sporting events, Jordin Tootoo became the first Inuk to play in the National Hockey League in the —04 season, playing for the Nashville Predators.
Although Inuit life has changed significantly over the past century, many traditions continue. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit , or traditional knowledge, such as storytelling, mythology, music , and dancing remain important parts of the culture. Family and community are very important. The Inuktitut language is still spoken in many areas of the Arctic and is common on radio and in television programming.
In May after being re-elected for her second term, Ms. In July she was sworn in as the Minister of the Environment. Visual and performing arts are strong. In the first feature film in Inuktitut, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner , was released worldwide to great critical and popular acclaim. It was directed by Zacharias Kunuk , and written, filmed, produced, directed, and acted almost entirely by the Inuit of Igloolik. Susan Aglukark is a popular singer. Mitiarjuk Attasie Nappaaluk worked at preserving Inuktitut and wrote one of the first novels ever published in that language.
Recently, there has been an identity struggle among the younger generations of Inuit, between their traditional heritage and the modern society which their cultures have been forced to assimilate into in order to maintain a livelihood.
With current dependence on modern society for necessities, including governmental jobs, food, aid, medicine, etc. The stressors regarding the identity crisis among teenagers have led to disturbingly high numbers of suicide. A series of authors has focused upon the increasing myopia in the youngest generations of Inuit.
Myopia was almost unknown prior to the Inuit adoption of western culture. Principal theories are the change to a western style diet with more refined foods, and extended education.
David Pisurayak Kootook was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, posthumously, for his heroic efforts in a plane crash. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the film, see Inuk film. For other uses of Inuit, see Inuit disambiguation. Indigenous cultures Indigenous personalities Country food Music. Traditional beliefs Inuit religion. Eskimo kinship and Inuit women.
Suicide in Greenland and Suicide among Canadian aboriginal people. Leenaars, Suicide in Canada . Inuit mythology and Shamanism among Eskimo peoples. Kalaallit and History of Greenland.
Retrieved October 20, United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 25, Retrieved 17 Oct Archived from the original on 2 November Retrieved 1 August Which names to use?
Department of Justice Canada. Archived from the original on Inuit, Métis and First Nations, Census: Concise Historical Atlas of Canada. University of Toronto Press. Louis Gentilcore; Geoffrey J.
Historical Atlas of Canada. Archived from the original PDF on Penguin University of California. A Prehistory of the North: Human Settlement of the Higher Latitudes. Vanished Mystery Men of Hudson Bay. Library and Archives Canada. National Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original PDF on May 14, Perrin; Bernd Wursig; J.
Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. The Historical Linguistics of Native America , pg. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. Retrieved 18 Oct Stern 27 July Historical Dictionary of the Inuit.
Language of the Inuit: Syntax, Semantics, and Society in the Arctic. Not included are the myriad of other species of plants and animals that Inuit use, such as geese, ducks, rabbits, ptarmigan, swans, halibut, clams, mussels, cod, berries and seaweed. An Oral History of Nunavut. For some, these foods were a treat; Am J Clin Nutr.
Archived from the original PDF on October 23, In the oven of the Holy Ghost you were baked into God's true bread. The Roman Catholic , Eastern Orthodox Churches and their calendars had great influence on eating habits; consumption of meat was forbidden for a full third of the year for most Christians. All animal products, including eggs and dairy products but not fish , were generally prohibited during Lent and fast.
Additionally, it was customary for all citizens to fast prior to taking the Eucharist. These fasts were occasionally for a full day and required total abstinence. Both the Eastern and the Western churches ordained that feast should alternate with fast. In most of Europe, Fridays were fast days, and fasting was observed on various other days and periods, including Lent and Advent. Meat, and animal products such as milk, cheese, butter and eggs, were not allowed, only fish.
The fast was intended to mortify the body and invigorate the soul, and also to remind the faster of Christ 's sacrifice for humanity. The intention was not to portray certain foods as unclean, but rather to teach a spiritual lesson in self-restraint through abstention.
During particularly severe fast days, the number of daily meals was also reduced to one. Even if most people respected these restrictions and usually made penance when they violated them, there were also numerous ways of circumventing them, a conflict of ideals and practice summarized by writer Bridget Ann Henisch:. It is the nature of man to build the most complicated cage of rules and regulations in which to trap himself, and then, with equal ingenuity and zest, to bend his brain to the problem of wriggling triumphantly out again.
Lent was a challenge; the game was to ferret out the loopholes. While animal products were to be avoided during times of penance, pragmatic compromises often prevailed. The definition of "fish" was often extended to marine and semi-aquatic animals such as whales , barnacle geese , puffins and even beavers.
The choice of ingredients may have been limited, but that did not mean that meals were smaller. Neither were there any restrictions against moderate drinking or eating sweets. Banquets held on fish days could be splendid, and were popular occasions for serving illusion food that imitated meat, cheese and eggs in various ingenious ways; fish could be moulded to look like venison and fake eggs could be made by stuffing empty egg shells with fish roe and almond milk and cooking them in coals.
While Byzantine church officials took a hard-line approach, and discouraged any culinary refinement for the clergy, their Western counterparts were far more lenient. During Lent, kings and schoolboys, commoners and nobility, all complained about being deprived of meat for the long, hard weeks of solemn contemplation of their sins. At Lent, owners of livestock were even warned to keep an eye out for hungry dogs frustrated by a "hard siege by Lent and fish bones". The trend from the 13th century onward was toward a more legalistic interpretation of fasting.
Nobles were careful not to eat meat on fast days, but still dined in style; fish replaced meat, often as imitation hams and bacon; almond milk replaced animal milk as an expensive non-dairy alternative; faux eggs made from almond milk were cooked in blown-out eggshells, flavoured and coloured with exclusive spices. In some cases the lavishness of noble tables was outdone by Benedictine monasteries, which served as many as sixteen courses during certain feast days.
Exceptions from fasting were frequently made for very broadly defined groups. Since the sick were exempt from fasting, there often evolved the notion that fasting restrictions only applied to the main dining area, and many Benedictine friars would simply eat their fast day meals in what was called the misericord at those times rather than the refectory.
Medieval society was highly stratified. In a time when famine was commonplace and social hierarchies were often brutally enforced, food was an important marker of social status in a way that has no equivalent today in most developed countries. According to the ideological norm, society consisted of the three estates of the realm: The relationship between the classes was strictly hierarchical, with the nobility and clergy claiming worldly and spiritual overlordship over commoners.
Within the nobility and clergy there were also a number of ranks ranging from kings and popes to dukes , bishops and their subordinates, such as priests. One was expected to remain in one's social class and to respect the authority of the ruling classes. Political power was displayed not just by rule, but also by displaying wealth.
Nobles dined on fresh game seasoned with exotic spices, and displayed refined table manners; rough laborers could make do with coarse barley bread, salt pork and beans and were not expected to display etiquette. Even dietary recommendations were different: The digestive system of a lord was held to be more discriminating than that of his rustic subordinates and demanded finer foods. In the late Middle Ages, the increasing wealth of middle class merchants and traders meant that commoners began emulating the aristocracy, and threatened to break down some of the symbolic barriers between the nobility and the lower classes.
The response came in two forms: Medical science of the Middle Ages had a considerable influence on what was considered healthy and nutritious among the upper classes. One's lifestyle—including diet, exercise, appropriate social behavior, and approved medical remedies—was the way to good health, and all types of food were assigned certain properties that affected a person's health.
All foodstuffs were also classified on scales ranging from hot to cold and moist to dry, according to the four bodily humours theory proposed by Galen that dominated Western medical science from late Antiquity until the 17th century. Medieval scholars considered human digestion to be a process similar to cooking.
The processing of food in the stomach was seen as a continuation of the preparation initiated by the cook. In order for the food to be properly "cooked" and for the nutrients to be properly absorbed, it was important that the stomach be filled in an appropriate manner. Easily digestible foods would be consumed first, followed by gradually heavier dishes. If this regimen were not respected it was believed that heavy foods would sink to the bottom of the stomach, thus blocking the digestion duct, so that food would digest very slowly and cause putrefaction of the body and draw bad humours into the stomach.
It was also of vital importance that food of differing properties not be mixed. Before a meal, the stomach would preferably be "opened" with an apéritif from Latin aperire , "to open" that was preferably of a hot and dry nature: As the stomach had been opened, it should then be "closed" at the end of the meal with the help of a digestive, most commonly a dragée , which during the Middle Ages consisted of lumps of spiced sugar, or hypocras , a wine flavoured with fragrant spices, along with aged cheese.
A meal would ideally begin with easily digestible fruit, such as apples. It would then be followed by vegetables such as lettuce , cabbage , purslane , herbs, moist fruits, light meats, such as chicken or goat kid , with potages and broths. After that came the "heavy" meats, such as pork and beef , as well as vegetables and nuts, including pears and chestnuts, both considered difficult to digest. It was popular, and recommended by medical expertise, to finish the meal with aged cheese and various digestives.
The most ideal food was that which most closely matched the humour of human beings, i. Food should preferably also be finely chopped, ground, pounded and strained to achieve a true mixture of all the ingredients. White wine was believed to be cooler than red and the same distinction was applied to red and white vinegar. Milk was moderately warm and moist, but the milk of different animals was often believed to differ.
Egg yolks were considered to be warm and moist while the whites were cold and moist. Skilled cooks were expected to conform to the regimen of humoral medicine. Even if this limited the combinations of food they could prepare, there was still ample room for artistic variation by the chef.
The caloric content and structure of medieval diet varied over time, from region to region, and between classes. However, for most people, the diet tended to be high-carbohydrate, with most of the budget spent on, and the majority of calories provided by, cereals and alcohol such as beer.
Even though meat was highly valued by all, lower classes often could not afford it, nor were they allowed by the church to consume it every day.
In one early 15th-century English aristocratic household for which detailed records are available that of the Earl of Warwick , gentle members of the household received a staggering 3. In the household of Henry Stafford in , gentle members received 2.
In monasteries, the basic structure of the diet was laid down by the Rule of Saint Benedict in the 7th century and tightened by Pope Benedict XII in , but as mentioned above monks were adept at "working around" these rules. This was circumvented in part by declaring that offal , and various processed foods such as bacon , were not meat. Secondly, Benedictine monasteries contained a room called the misericord , where the Rule of Saint Benedict did not apply, and where a large number of monks ate.
Each monk would be regularly sent either to the misericord or to the refectory. When Pope Benedict XII ruled that at least half of all monks should be required to eat in the refectory on any given day, monks responded by excluding the sick and those invited to the abbot's table from the reckoning. The overall caloric intake is subject to some debate. As a consequence of these excesses, obesity was common among upper classes. The regional specialties that are a feature of early modern and contemporary cuisine were not in evidence in the sparser documentation that survives.
Instead, medieval cuisine can be differentiated by the cereals and the oils that shaped dietary norms and crossed ethnic and, later, national boundaries.
Geographical variation in eating was primarily the result of differences in climate, political administration, and local customs that varied across the continent. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned.
In the British Isles , northern France , the Low Countries , the northern German-speaking areas, Scandinavia and the Baltic , the climate was generally too harsh for the cultivation of grapes and olives. In the south, wine was the common drink for both rich and poor alike though the commoner usually had to settle for cheap second pressing wine while beer was the commoner's drink in the north and wine an expensive import. Citrus fruits though not the kinds most common today and pomegranates were common around the Mediterranean.
Dried figs and dates were available in the north, but were used rather sparingly in cooking. Olive oil was a ubiquitous ingredient in Mediterranean cultures, but remained an expensive import in the north where oils of poppy , walnut, hazel and filbert were the most affordable alternatives.
Butter and lard , especially after the terrible mortality during the Black Death made them less scarce, were used in considerable quantities in the northern and northwestern regions, especially in the Low Countries.
Almost universal in middle and upper class cooking all over Europe was the almond , which was in the ubiquitous and highly versatile almond milk , which was used as a substitute in dishes that otherwise required eggs or milk, though the bitter variety of almonds came along much later. In Europe there were typically two meals a day: The two-meal system remained consistent throughout the late Middle Ages. Smaller intermediate meals were common, but became a matter of social status, as those who did not have to perform manual labor could go without them.
For practical reasons, breakfast was still eaten by working men, and was tolerated for young children, women, the elderly and the sick. Because the church preached against gluttony and other weaknesses of the flesh, men tended to be ashamed of the weak practicality of breakfast.
Lavish dinner banquets and late-night reresopers from Occitan rèire-sopar , "late supper" with considerable amounts of alcoholic beverage were considered immoral.
The latter were especially associated with gambling, crude language, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. As with almost every part of life at the time, a medieval meal was generally a communal affair. The entire household, including servants, would ideally dine together. To sneak off to enjoy private company was considered a haughty and inefficient egotism in a world where people depended very much on each other. When possible, rich hosts retired with their consorts to private chambers where the meal could be enjoyed in greater exclusivity and privacy.
Being invited to a lord's chambers was a great privilege and could be used as a way to reward friends and allies and to awe subordinates. It allowed lords to distance themselves further from the household and to enjoy more luxurious treats while serving inferior food to the rest of the household that still dined in the great hall.
At major occasions and banquets, however, the host and hostess generally dined in the great hall with the other diners.
However, it can be assumed there were no such extravagant luxuries as multiple courses , luxurious spices or hand-washing in scented water in everyday meals. Things were different for the wealthy. Before the meal and between courses, shallow basins and linen towels were offered to guests so they could wash their hands, as cleanliness was emphasized. Social codes made it difficult for women to uphold the ideal of immaculate neatness and delicacy while enjoying a meal, so the wife of the host often dined in private with her entourage or ate very little at such feasts.
She could then join dinner only after the potentially messy business of eating was done. Overall, fine dining was a predominantly male affair, and it was uncommon for anyone but the most honored of guests to bring his wife or her ladies-in-waiting. The hierarchical nature of society was reinforced by etiquette where the lower ranked were expected to help the higher, the younger to assist the elder, and men to spare women the risk of sullying dress and reputation by having to handle food in an unwomanly fashion.
Shared drinking cups were common even at lavish banquets for all but those who sat at the high table , as was the standard etiquette of breaking bread and carving meat for one's fellow diners.
Food was mostly served on plates or in stew pots, and diners would take their share from the dishes and place it on trenchers of stale bread, wood or pewter with the help of spoons or bare hands.
In lower-class households it was common to eat food straight off the table. Knives were used at the table, but most people were expected to bring their own, and only highly favored guests would be given a personal knife.
A knife was usually shared with at least one other dinner guest, unless one was of very high rank or well-acquainted with the host. Forks for eating were not in widespread usage in Europe until the early modern period , and early on were limited to Italy. Even there it was not until the 14th century that the fork became common among Italians of all social classes.
The change in attitudes can be illustrated by the reactions to the table manners of the Byzantine princess Theodora Doukaina in the late 11th century. She was the wife of Domenico Selvo , the Doge of Venice , and caused considerable dismay among upstanding Venetians. The foreign consort's insistence on having her food cut up by her eunuch servants and then eating the pieces with a golden fork shocked and upset the diners so much that there was a claim that Peter Damian , Cardinal Bishop of Ostia , later interpreted her refined foreign manners as pride and referred to her as " All types of cooking involved the direct use of fire.
Kitchen stoves did not appear until the 18th century, and cooks had to know how to cook directly over an open fire. Ovens were used, but they were expensive to construct and only existed in fairly large households and bakeries. It was common for a community to have shared ownership of an oven to ensure that the bread baking essential to everyone was made communal rather than private.
There were also portable ovens designed to be filled with food and then buried in hot coals, and even larger ones on wheels that were used to sell pies in the streets of medieval towns. But for most people, almost all cooking was done in simple stewpots, since this was the most efficient use of firewood and did not waste precious cooking juices, making potages and stews the most common dishes. This was considered less of a problem in a time of back-breaking toil, famine, and a greater acceptance—even desirability—of plumpness; only the poor or sick, and devout ascetics , were thin.
Fruit was readily combined with meat, fish and eggs. The recipe for Tart de brymlent , a fish pie from the recipe collection Forme of Cury , includes a mix of figs , raisins , apples and pears with fish salmon , codling or haddock and pitted damson plums under the top crust. This meant that food had to be "tempered" according to its nature by an appropriate combination of preparation and mixing certain ingredients, condiments and spices; fish was seen as being cold and moist, and best cooked in a way that heated and dried it, such as frying or oven baking, and seasoned with hot and dry spices; beef was dry and hot and should therefore be boiled ; pork was hot and moist and should therefore always be roasted.
In a recipe for quince pie, cabbage is said to work equally well, and in another turnips could be replaced by pears. The completely edible shortcrust pie did not appear in recipes until the 15th century. Before that the pastry was primarily used as a cooking container in a technique known as ' huff paste '.
Extant recipe collections show that gastronomy in the Late Middle Ages developed significantly. New techniques, like the shortcrust pie and the clarification of jelly with egg whites began to appear in recipes in the late 14th century and recipes began to include detailed instructions instead of being mere memory aids to an already skilled cook.
In most households, cooking was done on an open hearth in the middle of the main living area, to make efficient use of the heat. This was the most common arrangement, even in wealthy households, for most of the Middle Ages, where the kitchen was combined with the dining hall. Towards the Late Middle Ages a separate kitchen area began to evolve.
The first step was to move the fireplaces towards the walls of the main hall, and later to build a separate building or wing that contained a dedicated kitchen area, often separated from the main building by a covered arcade. This way, the smoke, odors and bustle of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk lessened. Many basic variations of cooking utensils available today, such as frying pans , pots , kettles , and waffle irons , already existed, although they were often too expensive for poorer households.
Other tools more specific to cooking over an open fire were spits of various sizes, and material for skewering anything from delicate quails to whole oxen.
Utensils were often held directly over the fire or placed into embers on tripods. To assist the cook there were also assorted knives, stirring spoons, ladles and graters. In wealthy households one of the most common tools was the mortar and sieve cloth, since many medieval recipes called for food to be finely chopped, mashed, strained and seasoned either before or after cooking.
This was based on a belief among physicians that the finer the consistency of food, the more effectively the body would absorb the nourishment. It also gave skilled cooks the opportunity to elaborately shape the results. Fine-textured food was also associated with wealth; for example, finely milled flour was expensive, while the bread of commoners was typically brown and coarse.
A typical procedure was farcing from the Latin farcio , "to cram" , to skin and dress an animal, grind up the meat and mix it with spices and other ingredients and then return it into its own skin, or mold it into the shape of a completely different animal.
The kitchen staff of huge noble or royal courts occasionally numbered in the hundreds: While an average peasant household often made do with firewood collected from the surrounding woodlands, the major kitchens of households had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people. Guidelines on how to prepare for a two-day banquet can be found in the cookbook Du fait de cuisine "On cookery" written in in part to compete with the court of Burgundy  by Maistre Chiquart, master chef of Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy.
Food preservation methods were basically the same as had been used since antiquity, and did not change much until the invention of canning in the early 19th century. The most common and simplest method was to expose foodstuffs to heat or wind to remove moisture , thereby prolonging the durability if not the flavor of almost any type of food from cereals to meats; the drying of food worked by drastically reducing the activity of various water-dependent microorganisms that cause decay.
In warm climates this was mostly achieved by leaving food out in the sun, and in the cooler northern climates by exposure to strong winds especially common for the preparation of stockfish , or in warm ovens, cellars, attics, and at times even in living quarters.
Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking , salting , brining , conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. Most of these methods had the advantage of shorter preparation times and of introducing new flavors.
Smoking or salting meat of livestock butchered in autumn was a common household strategy to avoid having to feed more animals than necessary during the lean winter months. Vegetables, eggs or fish were also often pickled in tightly packed jars, containing brine and acidic liquids lemon juice , verjuice or vinegar.
Another method was to seal the food by cooking it in sugar or honey or fat, in which it was then stored. Microbial modification was also encouraged, however, by a number of methods; grains, fruit and grapes were turned into alcoholic drinks thus killing any pathogens, and milk was fermented and curdled into a multitude of cheeses or buttermilk.
The majority of the European population before industrialization lived in rural communities or isolated farms and households. The norm was self-sufficiency with only a small percentage of production being exported or sold in markets.
Large towns were exceptions and required their surrounding hinterlands to support them with food and fuel. The dense urban population could support a wide variety of food establishments that catered to various social groups. Many of the poor city dwellers had to live in cramped conditions without access to a kitchen or even a hearth, and many did not own the equipment for basic cooking.
Food from vendors was in such cases the only option. Cookshops could either sell ready-made hot food, an early form of fast food , or offer cooking services while the customers supplied some or all of the ingredients. Travellers, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, made use of professional cooks to avoid having to carry their provisions with them.
For the more affluent, there were many types of specialist that could supply various foods and condiments: Well-off citizens who had the means to cook at home could on special occasions hire professionals when their own kitchen or staff could not handle the burden of throwing a major banquet. Urban cookshops that catered to workers or the destitute were regarded as unsavory and disreputable places by the well-to-do and professional cooks tended to have a bad reputation.
Geoffrey Chaucer 's Hodge of Ware, the London cook from the Canterbury Tales , is described as a sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. French cardinal Jacques de Vitry 's sermons from the early 13th century describe sellers of cooked meat as an outright health hazard.
The stereotypical cook in art and literature was male, hot-tempered, prone to drunkenness, and often depicted guarding his stewpot from being pilfered by both humans and animals. In the early 15th century, the English monk John Lydgate articulated the beliefs of many of his contemporaries by proclaiming that "Hoot ffir [fire] and smoke makith many an angry cook. The period between c. More intense agriculture on an ever-increasing acreage resulted in a shift from animal products, like meat and dairy, to various grains and vegetables as the staple of the majority population.
A bread-based diet became gradually more common during the 15th century and replaced warm intermediate meals that were porridge- or gruel-based. Leavened bread was more common in wheat-growing regions in the south, while unleavened flatbread of barley, rye or oats remained more common in northern and highland regions, and unleavened flatbread was also common as provisions for troops.
The most common grains were rye , barley , buckwheat , millet and oats. Rice remained a fairly expensive import for most of the Middle Ages and was grown in northern Italy only towards the end of the period. Wheat was common all over Europe and was considered to be the most nutritious of all grains, but was more prestigious and thus more expensive. The finely sifted white flour that modern Europeans are most familiar with was reserved for the bread of the upper classes.
As one descended the social ladder, bread became coarser, darker, and its bran content increased. In times of grain shortages or outright famine, grains could be supplemented with cheaper and less desirable substitutes like chestnuts , dried legumes , acorns , ferns , and a wide variety of more or less nutritious vegetable matter. One of the most common constituents of a medieval meal, either as part of a banquet or as a small snack, were sops , pieces of bread with which a liquid like wine , soup , broth , or sauce could be soaked up and eaten.
Another common sight at the medieval dinner table was the frumenty , a thick wheat porridge often boiled in a meat broth and seasoned with spices. Porridges were also made of every type of grain and could be served as desserts or dishes for the sick, if boiled in milk or almond milk and sweetened with sugar.
Pies filled with meats, eggs, vegetables, or fruit were common throughout Europe, as were turnovers , fritters , doughnuts , and many similar pastries. By the Late Middle Ages biscuits cookies in the U. Grain, either as bread crumbs or flour, was also the most common thickener of soups and stews, alone or in combination with almond milk. The importance of bread as a daily staple meant that bakers played a crucial role in any medieval community.
Bread consumption was high in most of Western Europe by the 14th century. Estimates of bread consumption from different regions are fairly similar: Among the first town guilds to be organized were the bakers', and laws and regulations were passed to keep bread prices stable. The English Assize of Bread and Ale of listed extensive tables where the size, weight, and price of a loaf of bread were regulated in relation to grain prices.
The baker's profit margin stipulated in the tables was later increased through successful lobbying from the London Baker's Company by adding the cost of everything from firewood and salt to the baker's wife, house, and dog. Since bread was such a central part of the medieval diet, swindling by those who were trusted with supplying the precious commodity to the community was considered a serious offense.
Bakers who were caught tampering with weights or adulterating dough with less expensive ingredients could receive severe penalties. This gave rise to the " baker's dozen ": While grains were the primary constituent of most meals, vegetables such as cabbage , chard , onions , garlic and carrots were common foodstuffs.
Many of these were eaten daily by peasants and workers and were less prestigious than meat. The cookbooks, which appeared in the late Middle Ages and were intended mostly for those who could afford such luxuries, contained only a small number of recipes using vegetables as the main ingredient.
The lack of recipes for many basic vegetable dishes, such as potages , has been interpreted not to mean that they were absent from the meals of the nobility, but rather that they were considered so basic that they did not require recording. Various legumes , like chickpeas , fava beans and field peas were also common and important sources of protein , especially among the lower classes. With the exception of peas, legumes were often viewed with some suspicion by the dietitians advising the upper class, partly because of their tendency to cause flatulence but also because they were associated with the coarse food of peasants.
The importance of vegetables to the common people is illustrated by accounts from 16th-century Germany stating that many peasants ate sauerkraut from three to four times a day. Fruit was popular and could be served fresh, dried, or preserved, and was a common ingredient in many cooked dishes.
The fruits of choice in the south were lemons , citrons , bitter oranges the sweet type was not introduced until several hundred years later , pomegranates , quinces , and, of course, grapes. Farther north, apples , pears , plums , and strawberries were more common. Figs and dates were eaten all over Europe, but remained rather expensive imports in the north.
Common and often basic ingredients in many modern European cuisines like potatoes , kidney beans , cacao , vanilla , tomatoes , chili peppers and maize were not available to Europeans until after , after European contact with the Americas, and even then it often took considerable time, sometimes several centuries, for the new foodstuffs to be accepted by society at large. Milk was an important source of animal protein for those who could not afford meat.
It would mostly come from cows, but milk from goats and sheep was also common. Plain fresh milk was not consumed by adults except the poor or sick, and was usually reserved for the very young or elderly. Poor adults would sometimes drink buttermilk or whey or milk that was soured or watered down.
On occasion it was used in upper-class kitchens in stews, but it was difficult to keep fresh in bulk and almond milk was generally used in its stead. Cheese was far more important as a foodstuff, especially for common people, and it has been suggested that it was, during many periods, the chief supplier of animal protein among the lower classes. There were also whey cheeses , like ricotta , made from by-products of the production of harder cheeses.
Cheese was used in cooking for pies and soups, the latter being common fare in German-speaking areas. Butter , another important dairy product, was in popular use in the regions of Northern Europe that specialized in cattle production in the latter half of the Middle Ages, the Low Countries and Southern Scandinavia.