10 Unusual and Disgusting Foods that were Consumed in Medieval Times

Medieval cuisine was a fascinating blend of flavors, traditions, and ingredients. However, not all the foods enjoyed during that era would appeal to modern tastes.

In fact, some dishes from medieval times might even be considered unusual and downright disgusting by today’s standards.

Exploring the culinary habits of the past can provide a glimpse into the unique palates and cultural practices of the medieval period.

“While many of the dishes consumed in medieval times might seem bizarre or even repulsive to us today, they provide valuable insights into the cultural and culinary practices of the era. These foods reflect the resourcefulness of the people, their limited access to ingredients, and their creative methods of preserving and preparing meals.”

Dr. Emily Thompson, Historian of Medieval Food Culture.

From bizarre combinations to peculiar preparation methods, here are 10 unusual and disgusting foods that were consumed in medieval times.

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Medieval Foods – Eels in Jelly

1. Surströmming

This Swedish delicacy involves fermenting herring for several months until it becomes a putrid, foul-smelling fish. It was not limited to medieval times but is still consumed today.

2. Roast Hedgehog

Hedgehogs were occasionally cooked whole, with their spines removed, and roasted over an open fire.

3. Pigeon Pie

Pigeons were a common food source during the medieval period and often used in pies, with the entire bird being baked inside the crust.

4. Souse

Souse, also known as soused or pickled meat, was a popular medieval dish that involved the preservation of meat through pickling. It was commonly made using various types of meat, such as pork, beef, or fish. The process of making souse involved simmering the meat in a flavorful liquid, typically consisting of vinegar, water, and spices.

5. Eels in Jelly

Eels were a popular ingredient in medieval cuisine, and sometimes they were cooked and then encased in a gelatinous jelly made from fish stock or broth.

6. Lampreys

Lampreys, a type of eel-like fish, were considered a delicacy during medieval times. They were often cooked and served in their own blood or stewed in a rich sauce.

7. Cockentrice

A bizarre culinary creation, the cockentrice was made by stitching the upper half of a pig onto the lower half of a capon (a castrated rooster). The resulting hybrid creature was then roasted and served as a centerpiece dish.

8. Bladder Bread

This bread was made by using a pig’s bladder as a container to hold the dough while it was baked. The bladder would be inflated during the baking process, resulting in a rather unappetizing appearance.

9. Calf’s Foot Jelly

A gelatinous dessert made by boiling and then chilling the feet of a calf. The resulting jelly was often flavored with spices and served as a delicacy.

10. Roast Swan

Swans were considered a luxurious and rare food during the medieval period. They would be roasted whole, with their feathers often used as decoration for an elaborate presentation.

It’s important to note that food preferences and culinary practices have evolved significantly over time, and what might have been considered unusual or disgusting in the medieval period may not necessarily align with modern tastes and sensibilities.

10 Unusual and Disgusting Medieval Dishes | Great Books

“Food in Medieval Times” by Melitta Weiss Adamson
This book offers a comprehensive exploration of medieval food culture, including the peculiar and unusual dishes consumed during that time.

“Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World: A Concise History with 174 Recipes” by Lilia Zaouali
Focusing on the culinary traditions of medieval Islamic societies, this book provides insights into the diverse and sometimes surprising foods enjoyed during that period.

“The Medieval Cookbook” by Maggie Black
This cookbook delves into the culinary world of the Middle Ages, featuring a collection of recipes that showcase the unique flavors and ingredients of medieval cuisine.

“A Feast of Words: For Lovers of Food and Fiction” by Anna Pavord
While not solely focused on medieval food, this book contains a section dedicated to the unusual and intriguing dishes of the past, including those from the medieval period.

“Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony” by Madeleine Pelner Cosman
Exploring the grand feasts and banquets of the medieval era, this book uncovers the opulent and sometimes bizarre foods that were served during these lavish events.

These books provide a range of perspectives on medieval cuisine, offering historical context, recipes, and insights into the peculiar and fascinating world of medieval food culture.