What it was like to visit a Medieval Tavern

Tasting History with Max Miller
26 Mar 202423:18

Summary

TLDRThis script transports viewers to the late medieval period, offering a glimpse into the culinary and social aspects of medieval taverns. It delves into the differences between inns, taverns, and ale houses, and their roles in the community. The focal point is the recreation of 'bokenade,' a traditional stew with a rich blend of medieval flavors, highlighting the use of ingredients like saffron, cloves, and verjuice. The narrative is interspersed with historical anecdotes and insights into the evolution of language and culinary practices, providing an immersive and educational experience.

Takeaways

  • ūüŹį In medieval times, inns, taverns, and ale houses served as key establishments for food, drink, and sometimes lodging.
  • ūüć≤ A common medieval dish was pottage or stew, with 'bokenade' being a notable example made from various meats and spices.
  • ūü•£ The quality of the stew depended on the establishment's reputation and the availability of ingredients, ranging from simple bread and cheese to elaborate meat dishes.
  • ūüć≤ 'Bokenade' was a stew that involved boiling meat, straining the broth, and thickening it with egg yolks, spices, and verjuice.
  • ūüĆŅ Medieval recipes used ingredients such as parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, cloves, and a unique combination of flavors like saffron and verjuice.
  • ūüďö The evolution of language is evident in historical recipes, with words like 'smite' for cutting and 'eyroun' for eggs showing changes in usage over time.
  • ūüŹ† The distinctions between inns, taverns, and ale houses blurred over time, with many establishments offering food and drink to a wider clientele.
  • ūüć∑ Taverns originally focused on serving wine and were closely regulated to ensure quality and prevent counterfeiting.
  • ūüŹ° Ale houses began as informal establishments where home-brewed ale was sold, and they gradually expanded to include food and lodging options.
  • ūüé≠ The social aspects of medieval taverns included gambling, drinking, and sometimes prostitution, and were frequented by a wide range of society, including the clergy.
  • ūüďĖ The script provides a glimpse into the rich culinary and social history of medieval England, highlighting the importance of these establishments in daily life.

Q & A

  • What was the primary purpose of visiting a medieval tavern?

    -In the late medieval period, people would visit a tavern primarily for food and drink, as these establishments often provided a place to gamble, drink, and eat dishes such as beef pottage or stews.

  • What were the differences between an inn, a tavern, and an ale house during the medieval times?

    -Inns were places for people to stay overnight and usually offered food and drink to their guests. Taverns were primarily places for eating and drinking, especially wine, and not for staying overnight. Ale houses were the least extravagant, often private houses selling ale, and might have offered some food as well.

  • What was the concept of a 'hunter's pot' or 'perpetual stew' in medieval times?

    -A 'hunter's pot' or 'perpetual stew' refers to a cauldron of stew or pottage that was always simmering. From it, bowls would be served and then replenished with new ingredients, ensuring a continuous supply of stew.

  • How did the availability of ingredients influence the stews in medieval taverns?

    -The quality and type of ingredients available would greatly influence the stews in medieval taverns. Depending on what was accessible, stews could range from simple vegetable pottage to more complex dishes with quality meats or even fish stews.

  • What is 'bokenade' and how was it prepared?

    -Bokenade, also known as banata or bukenade, is a common stew from the medieval period. It was made with veal, kid (goat), or hen boiled in water or broth, broken into pieces, and then combined with a strained broth, parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, cloves, egg yolks, ginger, verjuice, saffron, and salt. The dish was thickened with raw yolks and served as a hearty meat dish.

  • What is 'verjuice' and how might it be substituted today?

    -Verjuice was a medieval juice made from unripened grapes. It had a vinegary acidity but was also sweet. Today, it might be mimicked using a combination of grape juice and red wine vinegar.

  • How did language changes affect the naming of ingredients in medieval recipes?

    -Language changes led to variations in the names for ingredients. For example, 'eyroun' was a Middle English word for eggs, but over time, 'eggs' became the preferred term. William Caxton, a printer of the time, played a significant role in standardizing many of these word choices.

  • What were some of the social aspects and issues related to taverns in medieval England?

    -Taverns in medieval England were often associated with gambling, drinking, and prostitution. They were sometimes seen as dens of scum and villainy and could lead to violence or ruin, even affecting clergy who were discouraged from visiting such places.

  • What is the significance of 'The Canterbury Tales' in relation to medieval inns?

    -The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer contains one of the first references to a named inn, The Tabard. In the Tales, characters gather at this inn before embarking on their pilgrimages to Canterbury, highlighting the social and lodging aspects of inns during that time.

  • How were food and drink quality controlled in medieval ale houses and taverns?

    -Quality was controlled through laws such as the Assize of Bread and Ale, which tied the price of bread and ale to the price of wheat. There were also ale conners who would test the ale for quality and ensure it was sold at proper prices. Violations could lead to public humiliation as punishment.

  • How did the medieval tavern experience compare to modern perceptions influenced by fantasy games and literature?

    -While modern fantasy games and literature often depict taverns as places for quests and encounters with mythical creatures, the real-life medieval taverns were more focused on providing food, drink, and a place to socialize, albeit with a reputation for gambling, drinking, and occasional violence.

Outlines

00:00

ūüŹį Exploring Medieval Taverns and their Culinary Delights

This paragraph delves into the atmosphere and culinary practices of medieval taverns, highlighting their role as social hubs for food, drink, and entertainment. It introduces the concept of a 'bokenade,' a traditional beef stew, and sets the stage for a historical culinary journey. The sponsorship by Squarespace is acknowledged, and the historical context of inns, taverns, and ale houses is briefly touched upon, emphasizing their importance in the late medieval period for providing sustenance and lodging.

05:02

ūüć∑ Understanding the Nuances of Medieval Drinking Establishments

This section expands on the differences between inns, taverns, and ale houses during the Middle Ages. It explains the hierarchy and services offered by each, from the luxurious inns offering overnight stays and quality food and drink, to the more modest ale houses that primarily served local ale. The paragraph also discusses the concept of a 'hunter's pot' or 'perpetual stew,' a continuously replenished stew that was a staple in many establishments. The influence of regional ingredients on the stew's composition is noted, as well as the prevalence of wine in taverns, highlighting the economic and social significance of these establishments.

10:03

ūüć≤ Recreating the Flavors of the Past: Bokenade Recipe

This paragraph provides a detailed account of the ingredients and preparation method for 'bokenade,' a traditional medieval stew. It includes historical anecdotes about the evolution of language and culinary terms, such as 'smite' for cutting and 'eyroun' for eggs. The recipe is presented with modern adaptations, using ingredients like beef, parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, and cloves, and it emphasizes the importance of using a flavorful broth and the unique addition of verjuice, a medieval ingredient that adds a tangy sweetness to the dish.

15:05

ūü•ā The Role of Verjuice and Medieval Drinking Culture

This segment focuses on 'verjuice,' a medieval ingredient made from unripened grapes, and its role in adding a distinctive acidity to dishes like 'bokenade.' It also explores the broader context of medieval drinking culture, discussing the variety of beverages available in taverns, including wines from different regions and their relative costs. The paragraph touches on the importance of quality control in the form of wine criers and the consequences for those found selling adulterated wine. The economic and social dynamics of medieval England's taverns are further illuminated through references to historical texts and the prevalence of other drinks like cider, perry, and mead.

20:06

ūüćĽ The Regulation and Challenges of Ale Houses and Taverns

This section delves into the regulations surrounding ale houses and taverns, highlighting the Assize of Bread and Ale and the role of ale conners in ensuring quality and fair pricing. It discusses the public humiliation penalties for brewers who violated these laws, such as the pillory and the trumbell. The paragraph also contrasts the controlled environment of ale houses with the informal beginnings of private homes selling ale, and the evolution of these establishments into venues that occasionally provided food and lodging. The potential dangers and vices associated with these establishments are underscored through historical anecdotes of violence and excessive drinking, emphasizing the darker side of medieval tavern life.

ūüćī Bringing History to Life through Culinary Experience

The paragraph concludes with the preparation and tasting of the 'bokenade,' reflecting on the unique flavors that distinguish it from modern beef stews. It highlights the use of ingredients like saffron, cloves, and verjuice, which contribute to the dish's complex flavor profile. The segment also discusses the upcoming visit to a medieval inn in England and the excitement of experiencing historical sites and cuisine firsthand. The sponsorship by Squarespace is reiterated, and the ease of building a website with their tools and templates is emphasized, encouraging viewers to explore their own historical interests and share them through a Squarespace website.

Mindmap

Keywords

ūüí°medieval tavern

A medieval tavern refers to an establishment in the Middle Ages where people gathered to drink, eat, and sometimes gamble. These were essential social hubs of the time, differing from modern-day pubs in their variety and the types of services offered. In the video, the medieval tavern is explored as a place for receiving quests, eating dishes like beef pottage, and understanding the different types of establishments such as inns and ale houses.

ūüí°beef pottage

Beef pottage, also known as bokenade, is a dish that was commonly consumed in medieval times, particularly in taverns. It is a thick stew made with meat, typically beef in this case, and a variety of spices and other ingredients. The dish reflects the culinary practices of the Middle Ages, which often involved slow cooking in cauldrons and the use of spices for flavoring.

ūüí°verjuice

Verjuice is a historical ingredient used in medieval cooking, made from the juice of unripened grapes. It has a distinctive acidic, somewhat vinegar-like taste, but also a hint of sweetness. It was used as a souring agent in recipes, similar to how modern cooking uses lemon juice or vinegar.

ūüí°saffron

Saffron is a highly valued spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. It is known for its distinct flavor and golden color, and it was a prized ingredient in medieval cuisine. Its use in the recipe for bokenade illustrates the influence of exotic spices in medieval cooking and their role in enhancing the sensory experience of food.

ūüí°inn

An inn, in the context of the Middle Ages, was a place where travelers could rest for the night, often providing lodging, food, and sometimes drink. Inns were typically found near city gates or along major travel routes, serving as essential stops for weary travelers. They were more elaborate than taverns and ale houses, often offering better quality food and accommodations.

ūüí°tavern

A tavern in medieval times was an establishment primarily focused on serving alcoholic beverages, particularly wine. Unlike inns, they were not typically places to stay overnight, but rather social spots for drinking and sometimes eating. Taverns could vary greatly in quality and the type of clientele they attracted.

ūüí°ale house

An ale house was the least formal of the three types of drinking establishments in medieval England. It often began as a private home where the homeowner, usually a woman, would sell ale that she had brewed. These establishments were not as controlled as inns or taverns but were still subject to regulations to ensure the quality of the ale.

ūüí°William Caxton

William Caxton was an English printer who introduced the printing press to England. He is known for his translations and for standardizing many English words. In the context of the video, Caxton's work in language standardization is discussed in relation to the evolution of English words for eggs, from 'eyroun' to the modern 'eggs'.

ūüí°The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14th century. It is notable for its vivid portrayal of medieval life and its use of a frame story, where a group of pilgrims share tales on their journey to Canterbury. The video script references this work as an example of early literature that mentions a specific inn, The Tabard.

ūüí°language evolution

Language evolution refers to the process by which languages change over time. This includes the development of new words, the modification of existing words, and changes in pronunciation and grammar. The video script discusses this concept in the context of Middle English and the transition to Modern English, particularly focusing on the standardization of word usage.

ūüí°Squarespace

Squarespace is a web publishing platform that allows users to create and manage websites. It provides tools and templates for designing websites, as well as functionalities for e-commerce, blogging, and other online activities. In the video, Squarespace is the sponsor and is highlighted for its ease of use and design capabilities.

Highlights

In medieval times, a tavern was a place for gambling, drinking, and eating, such as the beef pottage known as bokenade.

During the late medieval period, an inn, tavern, or ale house provided food and drink, with varying quality depending on the establishment.

Reputable taverns might offer a bowl of pottage or stew, sometimes maintaining a 'hunter's pot' or 'perpetual stew' that was constantly replenished.

The concept of a stew that's always simmering and replenishing itself can still be found today in some places, like a broth served since 1945 in Japan.

In the Middle Ages, the ingredients for stew would vary based on availability and regional differences, leading to a diverse range of flavors.

Banata or bokenade is a common stew from medieval England and France, made with meat boiled in water or broth and flavored with various spices.

Language evolution is demonstrated through the transition from Middle English words like 'eyroun' for eggs to the modern English 'eggs'.

William Caxton's translation choices influenced modern English vocabulary, as he chose certain words over others during the time of his printing press.

The recipe for bokenade includes ingredients like beef, goat, or chicken with bones, parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, cloves, egg yolks, ginger, verjuice, saffron, and salt.

Verjuice, a medieval ingredient, is made from unripened grapes and has a vinegary yet sweet taste, similar to a mix of grape juice and red wine vinegar.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer provides a glimpse into medieval life, including references to a named inn called The Tabard.

Inns, taverns, and ale houses had distinct roles, with inns offering lodging and food, taverns focusing on wine and drink, and ale houses primarily selling ale.

The quality and variety of wine in England during the Middle Ages were significant, with different prices and origins affecting the drinking experience.

Public humiliation was a common punishment for those selling counterfeit or adulterated wine, including being put in the pillory or stocks.

Ale houses, often private homes selling ale, became more commercial over time and were regulated to ensure quality and fair pricing.

The dangers of overindulgence in food and drink at medieval taverns are illustrated through historical accounts of individuals meeting unfortunate ends.

Despite negative associations, taverns were frequented by many, including clergy, who often faced criticism for such behavior.

The recipe for bokenade is completed with the addition of egg yolks, verjuice, and a blend of spices, offering a unique and historically inspired dish.

Transcripts

00:00

While a medieval tavern in a fantasy game  might be where you'd go to

00:03

receive a quest from a hooded stranger in the corner, in real life

00:06

it was where you went to gamble, drink, and eat perhaps something like this bowl of beef pottage known as bokenade.

00:13

So thank you to Squarespace for sponsoring this video is we visit a medieval tavern

00:17

this time on Tasting History.

00:25

So if you ever find yourself in the late medieval period and you are in need of food and drink

00:30

you better find yourself an inn, tavern or ale house.

00:34

Now all three of those are not exactly synonymous and we'll talk about how they're different a little bit later but  

00:39

in general you should be able to go to any of  them and get a drink and probably some food.  

00:44

Now depending on the quality of the establishment  you might just be getting some bread and cheese  

00:48

but if it's a reputable tavern you should be  able to get a bowl of pottage or stew. 

00:53

Now some of these places might have what today is called  a hunter's pot or perpetual stew going.

00:58

And this is the concept of always having a cauldron of  of stew or pottage going at all times basically  

01:06

you would take a bowl from it and then replace the ingredients that you just took out so it's always replenishing itself.

01:13

Even today there are places that still practice this.

01:16

There's a place in Japan who has been serving the same broth since 1945

01:22

and in Perpignan France they served the same stew from the 15th century all the way up until World War II

01:30

when they couldn't get the right ingredients.

01:32

And in the Middle Ages getting the right ingredients would also influence what your stew would be.

01:38

You might just get a vegetable pottage and some place it would just be beans and cabbages,

01:43

but some places it might be like a fish stew or something with really quality meat in it.  

01:48

One of the most common stews from this period  which I found recipes for in pretty much every  

01:54

cooking manuscript from England and France from  the Middle Ages is called banata or bukenade or boknade.

02:00

"Take veal, kid, or hen, and boil them in fair water, or else  in fresh broth,

02:06

and smite them in pieces, and pick them clean. And then draw the same broth through a strainer,

02:11

and cast there to parsley, sage, hyssop, mace, cloves

02:15

and let it boil till the flesh be enough.

02:18

Then set it from the fire, and thicken it up with raw yolks of egg,

02:22

and cast there to powdered ginger, verjuice, saffron and salt,

02:26

and then serve it forth for a good meat."

02:29

I just find it so interesting that while the spellings have obviously changed  

02:32

and they would have been pronounced quite differently  back in the day

02:36

the words themselves for the most part are the same words that we would use today.

02:40

Now there are words like smite which means to cut but we don't usually use it in in like recipes.

02:46

It's more of a Biblical cutting I guess, though maybe we should bring that back. In my next cookbook I'm going to

02:52

get rid of the word cut and use to smite.

02:54

Now there are a few words in the original that we don't use at all in English today like eyroun

02:59

which was a Middle English word for eggs,

03:01

though eggs was also a Middle English word for eggs and it is around the time of this recipe

03:08

that we see one get picked over the other.

03:10

In 1490 William Caxton translated Virgil's 'Eneydos' into English,

03:15

and he was frustrated with how the English language was changing at the time.

03:19

He tells a story of a mercer or cloth Merchant named Sheffield, and he was from the north of England and he finds himself in Kent in the south of England  

03:28

and he goes up to this woman and and asks her for  some eggs,

03:32

and she says I don't know what you're saying, I don't speak French.

03:35

Well neither did he because eggs is not a French word but

03:39

she didn't know the word eggs because she was from the south and she said eyroun.

03:44

Well someone nearby overheard the confusion and said ask for eyroun and he got his eggs.

03:50

But after telling this story Caxton admits that he's also confused,

03:54

and finds consternation in these two different words meaning the same thing.  

03:59

And he writes "Lo, what should a man in these days  now write: eggs or eyroun?

04:04

Certainly it is hard to please every man because of diversity and change of language."

04:09

But the thing is he picked one and he picked eggs and usually it wouldn't matter which one he picked in years before

04:16

because he would write it down and a few people would read it great,

04:19

but he was using a printing press so  

04:22

thousands and thousands of these were going out  and so eggs became the word to use.

04:28

And he did that with a lot of different words. He was the one that chose which version we use even to this day.  

04:35

Anyway I just thought that was interesting, onto  the recipe.

04:38

So for this bokenade what you'll need is: 3 to 4 pounds or about 1 and 1.5 kilograms of beef, goat or chicken with the bones

04:45

I'm using beef, originally it actually says veal but I'm just using beef for this.

04:49

Also kid in the recipe it says kid, that is goat. I'm always having people saying it's children!

04:54

No it's not, it's goats.

04:56

A small handful of parsley, a few leaves of sage, a few sprigs of fresh hyssop, 1/2 teaspoon of mace,

05:02

and 1/8 teaspoon of cloves, four egg yolks, a 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 1/2 cup or 120 milliliters of verjuice.

05:09

So what exactly is verjuice or vertjus? It was a medieval way of making juice from unripened grapes,

05:17

and so it's not fermented or anything but it does have this like vinegary kind of acidness to it

05:24

but it's also sweet so if you don't have it maybe like half grape juice,

05:30

and half red wine vinegar might mimic the flavor.  

05:34

Then a pinch of saffron threads ground up, and a  teaspoon of salt.

05:37

So first put your meat into a large pot and cover it with water or broth or a combination of the two,

05:43

and then bring this to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

05:46

And make sure to skim off any scum or foam that forms on top.

05:50

Simmer this for about an hour or until the meat easily comes away from the bone.

05:55

And then take it off the heat, take the meat out and go ahead and smite your meat.

06:00

Also the knife that I'm using is this honkin knife,  

06:04

it's a knife which I'm now calling my my smiting knife. 

06:08

This was made for me, handmade, by one of my Patreon patrons and it mimics an older design from like the early Renaissance, I believe. 

06:16

I just think it's so cool, so I'll put a link to-

06:18

cus he makes like hand done knives. I'll put a link to his stuff. Anyway, this is now my smiting knife.

06:25

So once your meat is smitten or smited, you want to strain the broth as much as you can until it's nice and clean.

06:32

Then return the meat to the pot and add the broth back in.

06:35

Add in the parsley, sage and hyssop all chopped very fine as well as the mace and the cloves.

06:41

Then stir everything together and bring it to a simmer.

06:44

Then set the lid on the pot and let it simmer for an hour or an hour and a half or 2 hours,  

06:49

really until the meat is as tender as you want it to get. Also, keep an eye on it because you might need to add some water in case it all

06:55

steams away but that's why you want to leave the the  lid on as you do it.

07:00

Anyway while it cooks, I'm going to tell you a little bit about what else you might find in a medieval tavern.  

07:09

"Befell that in that season on a day, in Southwerk at the  Tabard as I lay

07:14

ready to wenden on my pilgrimage to Canterbury with full devout courage."

07:20

That was from the prologue of 'The Canterbury Tales' by Geoffrey Chaucer

07:23

and being written between 1387 and 1400 it contains one of the first references to a named inn,

07:31

an actual historic inn, it was called The Tabard and this is where in 'The Canterbury Tales'  

07:36

all of the characters gather just before heading  south to Canterbury on their pilgrimage

07:42

which is kind of the whole point of the work. Chaucer talks  about the owner of this inn and says

07:47

that he was a very good host "And to the supper he set us  straight away.

07:51

He served us with victuals of the best kind. Strong was the wine and well pleased we were to drink."

07:58

Now when I picture this in my mind's eye I'm definitely influenced by

08:02

things like Lord of the Rings, and Dungeons and Dragons and all of these kind of medieval fantasy worlds,

08:09

but they aren't exactly like that. First of all there are a lot fewer like orcs and elves,

08:15

but also the inns and taverns and alehouses of medieval England at least

08:21

were not all the same. They were quite different, at least at different parts in their history.

08:26

Now of course throughout time their definitions overlapped-

08:30

there was a lot of variety within  each classification but in general

08:35

you had the inns at the the top of the echelon, they tended to be the nicest.

08:40

And then there were the taverns and then the ale houses at the bottom.

08:44

The inns, how they started out at least, they were a place for people to stay the night,

08:49

usually they were kind of near the gate house of a city or a town or else  

08:54

in between cities or towns, like a day's walk away  maybe 20 miles away,

08:59

so it was a place that you could stop the night and stay. And just like a bed and breakfast they would often give you some food and drink,

09:07

but only just like a bed and breakfast to the people who were actually staying there,  

09:11

you couldn't roll up, you know. You weren't staying there, you roll up and you're like I want some grub, that isn't how it happened.

09:17

Though at times in history inns found themselves making good money from the food and drink and so

09:24

they kind of said all right maybe we will just serve to anyone who comes up

09:29

and so it was like having a restaurant in a hotel which is still a thing today.

09:33

A tavern on the other hand was kind of the opposite, it was  a place for people to come eat and drink, mainly drink,

09:39

but it was not typically a place to stay.

09:42

Originally taverns were places that served wine.  

09:45

They were run by vintner who made or imported wine  and remember this is a time when

09:50

wine was actually still being made in England, I think they do it again now,

09:54

but they had quite a bit of wine being made in England but it was mostly made by the church,

09:59

and they kept it all for themselves for I'm assuming communion.

10:02

So anyone else was having to get imported wine which was a lot more expensive.

10:07

The most common wine in England at the time was a red wine from Gascony that cost about 3 pennies a gallon,

10:13

twice as much as the very best ale.

10:16

Then there was Rhenish wine from the Rhine region which cost 6 to 8 pennies a gallon.

10:21

Now if you're paying this much for your wine you want to make sure that you're getting actually what you paid for

10:26

so if there's any question you can ask the tavener to let you down into the cellar

10:31

to see the actual barrel that your wine is coming from.  

10:35

If a tavener was found to be selling adulterated or  counterfeit wine

10:39

they would often be punished by being put in the pillary or the stocks and having that offending wine poured over their head,  

10:46

public humiliation.

10:48

But they would also usually get kicked out of the guild which basically meant that they lost their business.

10:54

There were actually people whose job it was to go around and inspect the wine

10:57

and it was more popular in France than in England but these people were usually the town crier,

11:04

and they would do this kind of as part of their job and be called the wine crier.

11:08

In the 11th century there was a French writer who said,

11:12

"Wine criers cry with open mouth the wine which is for sale in the taverns at four farthings."

11:18

Now some were selling the worst wine and everything  in between, there was a lot of variety.

11:25

In London alone in 1309 there were 354 different taverns  so lots of variety,

11:33

and with a population of only 880,000 people, that's like one tavern for every 225 people

11:39

so business was booming.

11:41

It's probably why they started eventually selling other drinks commonly like cider from apples and perry from pears

11:48

especially in the west country and then  mead which is made from honey.

11:53

Often that was more expensive and kind of kept for special occasions but I'm sure you could find different versions- 

11:58

different versions all over. Also, I found a mead that  I really like,

12:04

it's called Odin's Skull. It's not so sweet and kind of has a little spice to it.

12:08

I'll put a link in the description. It's really, really good if you like mead.

12:12

I should do another mead video 'cus I there are a lot of old mead recipes I need to cover.

12:17

More mead maybe coming up.

12:18

Anyway these taverns along with all these different drinks that they were now selling would often start to sell food,

12:24

and some would even have a room or two to let up like on the second or third floor of the building

12:30

so you can see that the lines between the definitions are already getting blurred.

12:35

Also these rooms, you didn't get like a room to yourself they usually would house like 10 or 12 different people who didn't know each other,

12:43

was like mash as many people into these rooms as possible.

12:46

If there was a bed, again lots of people sleeping in the same bed so it ain't the Holiday Inn.

12:52

Now the least extravagant of the three places to to get drinks and there were more places you could get drinks that, but that we're covering,  

12:58

were the ale houses and when they started out they were just that,

13:03

it was a private house where the wife in the house was selling ale

13:09

because she would make a big batch of ale, but ale back then especially before hops, would only last a day two maybe three,

13:16

and so anything that the family couldn't drink themselves she would sell to everyone else,

13:22

and so she would stick a stick or a broom outside of the door and that was the signal letting everyone know that there was ale for sale.  

13:29

Eventually these places too would serve some food  though typically it wasn't the highest quality or as varied a menu.

13:37

You'd probably get some bread  and cheese, maybe a meat pie, who knows.

13:41

Now just because these ale houses were less official than taverns and inns

13:46

that doesn't mean that it was just a free-for-all. They were still controlled they had to sell quality ale.

13:53

In fact in some ways it was even more controlled because ale was such a staple of the people people's diet,

13:59

it was a major form of calories for many people.

14:02

In 1266 the Assize of Bread and Ale went into effect,

14:07

and this tied the price of ale and of bread to the price of  wheat and just like there were the wine criers,  

14:14

there were ale conners who would go around to test  the ale and make sure everything was on the up and up.

14:21

They were sworn "to examine and assay the beer and ale, and take care that they were good and wholesome,

14:27

and sold at proper prices according to the assize; and also to present all defaults of brewers to the next court leet."

14:34

A maae baker or brewer who failed to adhere to these new laws  

14:39

"ought to undergo the judgment of the Pillory  without any redemption of money.

14:43

Likewise the woman brewer shall be punished by the Trumbell, trebuchet, or castigatory,

14:49

if she offends diverse times and will not amend."

14:52

That is to say if an ale wife flouts the law over and over and and doesn't change her ways

14:58

then she's going to be punished and the punishments are all forms of a public humiliation,

15:05

though I had to kind of look into  trebuchet because I think of a trebuchet and I'm like

15:10

were they flinging these poor women into like the walls of castles.

15:14

So it turns out there are smaller versions of trebuchet that were used just for dunking people into into the river,

15:20

and that's what it was. They weren't they weren't trebucheting women across the field.

15:25

Anyway if you are visiting an ale house, or a tavern, or an inn you'll want to take it easy.

15:31

Don't go overboard on either the food or the drink or else you might end up like poor Osbert of Elstow.

15:38

The Bedfordshire coroner's role of 1276 tells us what happened to poor osbert after he left a tavern.

15:44

"About midnight on 17th May Osbert le Wuayl son of William Crustemasse of Elstow, who was drunk and disgustingly overfed,

15:53

came from Bedford... towards his house... when he arrived at his house he had the falling sickness.

15:58

Fell upon a stone on the right side of his head breaking the whole of his head, and died by misadventure."

16:05

And while died by misadventure may sound cool I assure you it is not.

16:09

And it seems that leaving these taverns drunkenly was was an ongoing problem and often ended in your demise.

16:18

In another coroner's role from 1272 it says that Ralph son of Ralph left a tavern and was accosted by four men,

16:26

Robert Bernard of Wuten, Robert of Shefford, Richard Norman and Roger Brienne.

16:31

I love that every person in this story has a first name that starts with the letter R.

16:36

Even the tavern that Ralph was drinking at was owned by Robert Malon.

16:41

Anyway these four men Robert, Robert, Richard, and Roger ask Ralph if he is drunk and

16:47

he is and so he drunkenly says who are you?

16:51

And in response "because he was drunk, Robert sprang forward and struck Ralph across the crown of his head with a sparth axe...

16:58

so that blood and brains immediately flowed out, he immediately lost his speech and died thereof about midday on the morrow."

17:06

The thing is these ruffians who accosted Ralph are the exact type of people who would often be in the taverns themselves.

17:14

I mean there were those upscale establishments of course but  

17:18

most it seems, at least that got written about, were  dens of scum and villainy

17:24

that were filled with gambling, drinking and prostitution but even with such a terrible reputation

17:31

it seems that pretty much everybody found themselves in a tavern at at one point or another, even the clergy  

17:37

but that was quite frowned upon as can be seen in this  letter from around the year 1200.

17:43

"An archdeacon to a rural dean, greetings...

17:46

we have been given to understand that chaplains in your deanery live in less than upright fashion...

17:52

for they go to taverns as we have heard where they have inappropriate and illicit association with laypeople,

17:58

with the result that those who say priests are no different from laypeople are justified.

18:03

In order that in the future it cannot be said that, as a result of your laziness,

18:08

such chaplains have been found in your deanery, bestir yourself to correct these matters."  

18:14

Another letter I found shows that whether you're  a layperson or a clergyman

18:18

going and gambling at these taverns often led to ruin. In this letter

18:23

a man has lent the friend of a friend some money and now he is asking the friend to pay him that money back,

18:31

and the friend is like no.

18:33

"I do not wish to lend him anything of mine, for he is inveterate dice player and he loses everything that he gambles...  

18:41

those who were with him in the tavern when he lost X and his pledges- they gained everything, right down to his drawers.

18:48

So take care that you refrain from handing over any more of your own money-

18:53

which you borrowed from me- and so lose on him what you ought to repay me.

18:59

So should you find yourself in medieval England maybe stay away from any taverns or in that seem a little dodgy.  

19:05

I'm hoping that I have found an upstanding inn in The  Porch House, Stow on the World

19:11

which I just booked several nights at when I'm going to England in June very, very excited.

19:16

Now they actually claim to be the oldest inn in England dating from the year 947 though

19:21

there are numerous places that make very similar claims uh so so it's hard to tell

19:27

exactly what they mean. There's a wonderful video by one of my favorite creators J. Draper, I'll put her stuff in the description she's great.  

19:34

And she talks about how a lot of places are England's  "oldest pub" or England's "oldest inn" and it often has to do with

19:42

like there is one stone that was here in 1450 and the rest of the place is new,  

19:49

it's like you know the Pub of of Theseus but sometimes also

19:55

it's like yes in 900 there was definitely an inn here, and there's an inn here now,

20:01

but you know here it was like a dentist's office and here was a bank and you know.

20:05

Anyway, it doesn't matter. I'm still really, really excited to go.

20:08

And perhaps if I can, I can convince them to really lean into their medieval pedigree,  

20:15

and make some bokenade like the one that I'm about to eat.

20:19

So as soon as the meat is nice and tender take it off the heat and then it is time to add the egg yolks.

20:24

Now if you just add the egg yolks right now they're going to scramble and it's going to be unpleasant so

20:30

what you need to do is let the broth cool down just a little bit and then take a little of that broth,

20:36

and slowly add it into the egg yolks as you're whisking and  they will start to warm up.

20:42

Keep doing this until you've added about a 1/2 cup of the broth and then whisk in the ginger, and the saffron, and the salt,  

20:48

and then you can add that to the stew. 

20:51

Finally add in the verjuice and it is ready to go.

20:54

And here we are a bokenade fit for a medieval tavern.

20:58

So you want to add those egg yolks in like last thing before you serve it because if you ever have to reheat it  

21:04

they do tend to scramble a little bit so they go from thickening it to to scrambled.

21:09

The taste is going to be the same but the the look is a little a little different and I did just have to reheat mine unfortunately.

21:15

Doesn't matter, here we go. The thing is smells wonderful the saffron is what hits me.

21:21

I was worried it was going to be the clove 'cus that's what was hitting me at the beginning, but now it's the saffron. Here we go.

21:30

Hm!

21:35

That's really good. That is so interesting because

21:39

you get those medieval flavors that you would never find in a modern beef stew;

21:46

like the saffron, like the cloves, like the mace, like verjuice which adds this kind of

21:51

biting acidity without being super acidic because a lot of medieval dishes will actually just add vinegar,

21:58

and that is the flavor that you get.

22:00

This is different there's a more of a sweetness to it.

22:04

Really, really nice and the meat just falls apart. 

22:07

Anyway if you do want to make this or if I can get that in, in England to make it,

22:11

then I will point you toward the Tasting History website, tastinghistory.com

22:16

which I made with help from Squarespace who is today's sponsor.

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So if you're looking to make a new website go to squarespace.com for a free trial,

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and when you're ready to launch just go to squarespace.com/tastinghisory

23:00

and you'll get 10% off of your first purchase of a website or  domain,

23:04

and I will see you next time on Tasting History.

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