Saturday, February 09, 2013

Today's Research Snippet: Medieval Fast Food in 12th Centure London

Today it's back to William FitzStephens' description of London in the reign of Henry II and a little on fast food establishments!  I wonder if McDonald's will ever served sturgeon and Guinea fowl! 

Those that ply their several trades, the vendors of each several thing, the hirers out of their several sorts of labour are found every morning each in their separate quarters and each engaged upon his own peculiar task.
Moreover there is in London upon the river's bank, amid the wine that is sold from ships and wine cellars, the public cook shop. There, daily, according to the season, you may find viands, dishes roast, fried and boiled, fish great and small, the coarser flesh for the poor, the more delicate for the rich, such as venison and birds both big and little.
If friends, weary with travel should of a sudden come to any of the citizens, and it is not their pleasure to wait fasting till fresh food is bought and cooked and until servants bring water for hands and bread, they hasten to the river bank, and there all things desirable are ready to their hand. However great the infinitude of knights and foreigners that enter the city or are about to leave it, at whatever hour of night or day, that the former may not fast too long naught the latter depart without their dinner, they turned aside thither, if it so please them, and refresh themselves, each after his own manner.
Those who desire to fare delicately, need not search to find sturgeon or guinea fowl or Ionean francolin since all the dainties that are found there are set forth before their eyes. 

Now this is a public cook-shop appropriate to the city and pertaining to the art of civic life. Hence that saying which we read in the Georgias of Plato, to wit, that's the art of cookery is a counterfeit of medicine and a flattery of the fourth part of the art of civic life.

Today's research photo: Mediaeval cooking pots circa 1200: Museum of London. 

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