You Are What You Eat
A common phrase in today’s society is “You are what you eat. ” To people today, the phrase means everyone is made up of junk food and immense amounts of sugar, but what would the phrase mean to the people of the Elizabethan Era? Even though people in the Elizabethan Era ate sugars and sweets, one did not eat as much. The people of the Elizabethan Era ate immense amounts of meat as we do sugar; hence, to add to the statement “You are what you eat,” people of the Elizabethan Era would most likely be meat and a lot of vegetables.
The diet of the Elizabethan Era was made up of three main meals. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. Breakfast can either start one’s day off great, or one could start off their day in a bad mood if one doesn’t get the jump start from breakfast. Today many people have cereal or pop a piece of toast in the oven for breakfast; however, in the Elizabethan Era breakfast took more time and was considered an elegant meal (“Elizabethan Food”). The people of the Elizabethan Era ate many of the same things for breakfast as we do today.
For example one in the Elizabethan Era would have eaten pancakes, bread, porridge, butter, or eggs for breakfast (“Elizabethan Food and Drink”). The author of Elizabethan Food and Drink website writes: Eggs were also eaten at breakfast. They were eaten “sunny side up” or beaten to make scrambled eggs. They were also mixed with bread crumbs to fry things such as fish. Another popular food for breakfast was pancakes, which were made from flour and egg batter.
They were a treat for Sunday mornings. Elizabethans usually put jams such as grape, strawberry, and sometimes powdered sugar on them for a sweeter taste. “Elizabethan Food and Drink”) Today eggs are eaten as a side item to the main dish; instead, in the Elizabethan Era eggs were many times eaten as the main dish. In comparison to having a healthy breakfast such as eggs, many people ate pancakes on Sunday for a treat (“The Elegance in Every Elizabethan Food”). Just as some people do today, powdered sugar was put on the pancakes. Manchet was also eaten at the morning meal. Manchet is a roll or small loaf of white bread made of the finest wheat flour.
Manchet was mainly eaten by the rich and royalty; however, the poor did have manchet on special occasions (“The Elegance in Every Elizabethan Food”). Manchet was often eaten with butter to add flavor. Butter was very common in the Elizabethan Era (“Elizabethan Era Diet-An Overview”). The second meal of the day is dinner. Today many people call this meal lunch. Dinner was served at 10:00 a. m. and lasted till 12:00 p. m. The men ate first at 10:00 a. m. ; furthermore, the women ate at 11:00 a. m. The rich had servants to not only serve the food, but also to hand feed the food to them.
Dinner was a lighter version of supper. “Elizabethan dinner usually consisted of several kinds of fish, half a dozen different kinds of game, venison, various salads, vegetables, sweet meats, and fruits. ” (“Elizabethan Food and Drink”). In the same way in which we use forks and knifes today so did the people in the Elizabethan Era. Utensils in the Elizabethan Era were forks, knifes, ladles, and spoons (“Elizabethan Food and Drink”). The fork and spoon were used during meals just like in today’s meals. “The knife and ladle were the main food preparing utensils” (“Elizabethan Food”).
The ladle was used to scoop soup and many other foods. The knife was used to cut food; hence, the knife has the same purpose today. Finally the last meal of the day is supper. The last meal of the day started at 2:00 p. m. and ended at 3:00 p. m. (“Elizabethan England Life”). At supper the women ate first at promptly 2:00 p. m. and the men started eating at 2:30 p. m. Just like dinner, the rich had their food served and fed to them. Food served at dinner included heavy meats, soup, wine, vegetables, and some fruit (“Elizabethan England”).
The meat served at dinner included ham, turkey, and cow (“Elizabethan Food”). These were the most common meats and the easiest meats to keep in storage. The soups served at dinner were considered light and were used to wash food down to one’s stomach (“Elizabethan Era Diet”). Vegetables were basically the same as today’s vegetables except the vegetables didn’t come in a can. Finally, the fruit was all home grown and didn’t have artificial sweetener. In addition to the main course, one had a drink or beverage. The most common drink was wine.
The rich had wine with every meal except breakfast and the poor had wine with special meals (Elizabethan Food). Wine was homemade and the rich bought their wine from farmers. Likewise to today’s society there are always new foods being discovered. In the Elizabethan Era many new types of food were being discovered. New toppings included butter, strawberries, and powdered sugar (“Elizabethan Diet an Overview”). New drinks included milk and fruit juices. These toppings and drinks were considered a delicacy; therefore, only the rich had these foods and drinks on a regular basis.
Over the years, food evolves along with everything else in the world, but the heart of the daily meals has always been the same. The diet of the Elizabethan Era consists of the three main meals. The first meal of the day is breakfast. The second meal of the day was called dinner. Finally the third meal of the day was called supper. These meals make up the diet of the Elizabethan Era. The phrase “You are what you eat” really has changed over the years; just imagine what people will think when this phrase is said twenty years from now.