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Elizabethan Era: Food and Culinary Habits


Rayan Soueidan

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of Elizabethan Era: Food and Culinary Habits

Elizabethan Era - Food and Culinary Habits
Food Availability
Elizabethan Food and Diet
Elizabethan Drinks
"I would give all my fame for a pot of

(Quotation Cafe, 2004)
"Mine eyes smell
, I shall weep anon."

(Quotation Cafe, 2004)
"Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, that there shall be no more


(Quotation Cafe, 2004)
Elizabethan food differed from one Elizabethan to another. Food availability and diet varied according to the Elizabethan's status and wealth. An Elizabethan was either classified as wealthy and in the upper class, or poor and in the lower class.
Food was a major part of Elizabethan times! Let's learn all about it...
Daily consumption of food of the rich, upper class
Cooking Methods
A popular dessert (which you will soon try) - Cold Milk Cake
How to make it:
It's very simple and worth it! Just take some sponge cake, slice it up, and put it in a big cooking tray. Then take all sorts of berries, or even one type of berry (we chose strawberries), and scatter them all over the sponge cake. Next, poor milk all over the cake and put it in the fridge for a while. And finally, top it off with some whip cream.
By: Rayan, Christine, Asia & Zainab
Elizabethan foods were sweet and spicy due to the imported sugar and spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon, etc). One of the most newer spices was pepper. The discovery of peppers including red peppers, cayenne, and chilli was magnificent, as they made use of the finest foods.

During the Elizabethan era, explorations to the New World bought a whole new range of foods, some of which were tomatoes, turkey, potatoes, vanilla, kidney beans, corn, cashew, and much more.
As farming increased, the cultivation of fruit trees and bee hives was seen which expanded the variety of foods available.
Poor harvests, such as those that occurred during the 1950s lead to starvation in some areas for the Elizabethans.
: There was a very wide range which consisted of venison, beef, pork, veal, goat, lamb, rabbit, hare, mutton, swan, and poultry. Any remember, these meats were seemingly only available to the upper, wealthy class because meat was a sign of wealth.
Let's take a look at the overall availability of food of all classes...
: Was the most important component of anyone's diet. The most well-known type of bread that the upper, wealthy class ate was Manchet, and for the lower, poorer class it was Rye and Barley bread.
In a description of Elizabethan England, Bread was described as follows...
Dairy Products
: The dairy products produced in the Eizabethan era were milk, cream, butter, and cheese. Eggs were also consumed by many as several types of cheese were available. All of these dairy products were inferior foods and therefore only consumed by the lower, poorer class. Only butter, which was stored in wooden barrels called
were used for cooking by the upper class.
: Back in Elizabethan times, people categorized all vegetables as herbs. A large amount of vegetables were consumed by the poor as vegetables were considered "fit" for them. Only onions, garlic, and leeks graced the table of a wealthy Elizabethan from the higher class.
...The bread throughout the land is made of such grain as the soil yieldeth; nevertheless the gentility commonly provide themselves sufficiently of Manchet for their own tables, whilst their household and poor neighbors in some shires are forced to content themselves with rye, or barley, yea, and in time of dearth, many with bread made either beans, peas, or oats, or of altogether and some acorns among, of which scourge the poorest do soonest taste, sith they are least able to provide themselves of better...
They ate mostly meat which made sense since it was a sign of wealth.
Little amounts of fruits and veggies were consumed by this class. The only fruits and veggies they ate were the ones preserved in honey or served in pie.
They had the belief that it would be lowly of them to eat whatever came from the ground.
A visual effect was necessary for a meal, especially for feasts and banquets. Elizabethans enjoyed a a variety of serving methods, colors and various props. Peacocks were reared for consumption but their feathers were used to decorate cooked foods. Strange and unusual shapes were used in food presentation.
Dinner was the most dominant and longest meal. It lasted from 12 till noon. The amount of food laid upon a dinner table was prodigious. There would be a very wide range of different foods including different types of soups, fish, all types of meat. There would also be many different combinations of meals - lobster salad, maraschino jelly, truffles with champagne.
There were a numerable amount of courses for a meal, where each course consisted of a different range of foods. The amount and variety of food offered at other meals than dinner were scarcely less abundant.

Breakfast was very brief. The foods served were not what Anthony Trollope's imagination would look like, many Elizabethans
come to "dry toast and buttered toast, muffins and crumpets, hot bread and cold bread, eggs in napkins and crispy bits of bacon under silver covers... and kidneys frizzling on a hot-water dish."

Supper was a substantial meal and food and drink was generally served between 66 and 7 and accompanied by various forms of entertainment.

Little was known about nutrition at that time so the diet of this class lacked vitamin C, fiber, and calcium.
This lead to an assortment of health problems including bad teeth, skin diseases, and scurvy. Sugar was an expensive commodity and was known to blacken the teeth. It became fashionable to have blackened teeth and if the person wasn't able to have blackened teeth due to the lack of quantity of sugar, cosmetics were applied to achieve this effect!

It was probable that the lack of protein that this class had resulted into a wide range health problems.
The diet of this class was much healthier than the diet of the upper and wealthier class.
Vegetables and fresh fruit were eaten by this class - vegetables would've been included in some form of stew, soup or pottage.
This class also consumed lots of dairy products as they were deemed inferior foods.
Although the diet of this class was better than the diet of the upper, wealthier class, it was still imbalanced. It lacked vitamin C which sometimes resulted in scurvy.
Daily consumption of food of the poor, lower class
Water wasn't clean during this era. People didn't know about bacteria but they did know that when people drank water they got sick. People therefore drank wine and ale. This may explain why many of Shakespeare's poems and plays have references to wine and ale.
Elizabethan food was prepared by several methods:
In addition to that, the people of this class didn't possess the money to support themselves with a large quantity of food. So, occasionally, these people faced starvation.
spit roasting
To being with, where was Elizabethan food generally purchased?
Since a large amount of cooking was conducted over an open flame, pots, pans, kettles, skillets, and cauldrons were used for this type of cooking.
To prepare the food a range of knives, ladles, meat forks and scissors were used.
Instead of a baking tin, Elizabethans used a baking tray which they called a 'coffin'.
Every Elizabethan kept a book of their own recipes.
Shakespeare drank wine and ale as well as melmsley, a rich and sweet wine, and mead, wine made from honey and was drunk by all classes.
It is estimated that an Elizabethan drank one gallon of low-alcoholic drinks a day.
The wealthy, upper class drank both wine and ale while the poor, lower class drank just ale.
Every Elizabethan drink was cold because they did not like them warm.
Coffee and tea were not yet popular during the Elizabethan era which probably explains why beverages were always cold, people weren't used to the taste of a warm liquid.
People living on farms would be able to drink milk or milk-based drinks but as there was no refrigeration it could not be transported very far. They could also drink whey (the liquid left from making cheese) or buttermilk.
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