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Elizabethan Dining Essay

1866 words - 7 pages

Robbins A. 8Elizabethan DiningAshley RobbinsEnglish IV HMrs. WoodFebruary 18, 2009Elizabethan DiningDifferent times in the past have produced different culinary arts and methods of preparing the food, preserving the food, as well as dining entertainment; the Elizabethan era was no exception. Meal time activities differed for each social status. During Elizabethan times was the introduction of different foods from the New World. It was also the period when there was an expanded use of sugar. Increased cultivation of fruit trees and bee hives also amplified the range of foods available.It was important that the food prepared for the nobility have a great visual effect, especially for feasts and banquets. Elizabethans enjoyed a wide variety of serving methods such as colors or props. Peacocks were eaten as a delicacy and their feathers were used to decorate the cooked food. According to social customs the preparation and presentation was a sign of wealth. Meat especially signaled a higher stature. Cooks may have been encouraged to surprise and amuse the nobility by the decorations and unusual shapes. A Kind or queen when going abroad could expect banquet tables filled with hundreds of dishes, for only one meal. Food was not simply served; there was much pageantry and entertainment. An example of what had might of occurred is: large cages of live birds, great silver bowls piled with a variety of fruits and vegetables, pillars of wheat, oat, and barley were displayed as signs of good harvests.Most banquets would be not only a crowded and noisy affair, but guests would often bring their own servants to act as gophers to their masters. The highest members of society may have also brought tasters to assure their food was not poisoned. The rich and nobles of the time loved hospitality and a large variety of guests that often returned. Custom and grandeur was the order of the day as guest was arranged in the great hall by order of importance.Table manners were very essential. Since everyone would be serving them selves by digging into the common dishes, having clean hands was important. They would wash their hands out in the open as a sense of respect so everyone could see and then be assured one's hands were clean. It was just as important to keep one's hands clean during the meal. Manuals for manners were handed out that gave a list of things people should refrain from, such as: putting one's fingers in their ears, on your head blowing one's nose with their hands and men were told to abstain from 'scratching.' Elizabethans saw it ghastly to poke around on a plate, probably looking for a better piece of food and putting the meatless bones back on a platter. Putting the bones on the floor for the dog was seen as the proper thing to do. The 'release of the wind' was also out of the question.Of Course the meal of the common man or middle class was not so extravagant. Most had three meals a day and the even poorer ate when they could. For example, a dark...

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