What Medieval Junk Food Was Like (Video)
Medieval Europe's fast food, born out of necessity, offers a glimpse into a different culinary era. Cook shops along London's bustling Thames provided hot meals for travelers and the impoverished. Unlike today's drive-throughs, customers strolled up to these shops, selecting from seasonal menus. Meat pies, the medieval equivalent of fast-food burgers, were popular, but food safety was a concern. Some pies contained spoiled meat, and reheating old ones wasn't uncommon. Bread was a staple, and bakers did more than just loaves. They wrapped customers' meat in bread, creating a medieval precursor to the modern bread bowl. Soft pretzels were a hit, especially during lent, when meat was avoided. Monks even shared them with praying children. Alcohol, a favorite among medieval Europeans, remained popular, even during Lent.
Sugar was a luxury, so honey sweetened many treats, like gingerbread. Funnel cakes, precursors to modern carnival delights, made their debut. Dutch waffles, with their famous grid pattern, also emerged. The New World's discovery eventually made sugar affordable, revolutionizing desserts. Crispy crusts with berries and sweet fruit-filled ravioli, known as kuskenoles, delighted medieval taste buds and led to the word "dessert." While medieval fast food was different from today's options, it met the era's needs, influencing our culinary history.
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Top image: Medieval soldier eating junk food. Source: master1305 / Adobe Stock.