The Canterbury diet …

Sunday was a nice day, so we went for a walk. Nothing strenuous, just up Orroral Valley to the abandoned settlement site, and to have lunch sitting on the rocks by the river.

Our walking lunches tend to the basic – cheese, oatcakes, coarsely chopped celery and carrots, some fruit, and perhaps some leafy stuff.

Anyways as we were sitting munching, J mentioned that our lunch would probably pass muster as a Paleo lunch – to which I replied probably more medieval than paleo.

And that kind of got me thinking – what would you have (and not have) in a medieval diet. Mainly you’d eat

  • pulses
  • green vegetables
  • oats, barley, spelt
  • some root vegetables
  • lean meat
  • cheese
  • fish
  • coarse bread
  • beer, wine, cider
  • honey
  • a good range of spices including cinnamon and pepper but no chili

in fact enough to make a decent diet, farro and spelt in place of rice and polenta. You could even wave your hand and allow yourself a small amount of wholegrain pasta. You could certainly manage some of these robust northern Greek or Lombardy style stews with meat and pulses, and various robust salads.

What you wouldn’t have is anything that wasn’t known to western Europe before 1450

  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • maize and maize based products – no corn syrup
  • rice
  • capsicums and chili
  • some spices
  • tea
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • sugar

and when you look at it like this you’re removing a lot of the precursors of manufactured food – your diet would be less sweet, definitely more spartan, but quite tolerable. Personally, apart from the lack of tea and coffee I think I could manage quite well on it.

I think I’ll market it as the Canterbury Diet – remember you heard it here first …

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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