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MEDIEVAL BANQUETS

dren who are ill require extra food to ensure that they have adequate nutrition to ensure normal growth and de- velopment. Food is crucial in combating both minor and major illnesses.

Many specific nutrients defend against disease. Cal- cium, a mineral found mainly in dairy products, is criti- cal in the promotion of bone health and protection against osteoporosis. Fluoride, now added as a supple- ment to most water supplies, is crucial to tooth develop- ment. Iron is most commonly found in meats and protects against anemia. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida in developing fetuses and has recently been found to protect against cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost every vitamin and mineral is known to be critical to one or more life processes. Nutritional spe- cialists and medical practitioners are constantly studying the role each nutrient plays in protecting the body and investigating further possible cures.

See also Dietetics; Digestion; Disease: Metabolic Diseases; Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition; Health and Dis- ease; Hunger, Physiology of; Immune System Regu- lation and Nutrients; Intestinal Flora; Microbiology; Nutrient-Drug Interactions; Nutrients; Nutrition; Nutritionists; Safety, Food.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duyff, Roberta Larson. The American Dietetic Association’s Com- plete Food and Nutrition Guide. New York: Wiley, 1998.

Mahan, Kathleen L., and Marian Arlin, eds. Krause’s Food, Nu- trition and Diet Therapy. 10th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saun- ders; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2000.

Margen, Sheldon, and the editors of the University of Califor- nia at Berkeley Wellness Letter. The Wellness Encyclopedia

of Food and Nutrition: How to Buy, Store, and Prepare Every

Variety of Fresh Food. New York: Health Letter Associates, 1992.

Nelson, Jennifer K., Karen E. Moxness, Michael D. Jensen, and

Clifford F. Gastineau. Mayo Clinic Diet Manual: A Hand-

book of Nutrition Practice,. 7th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1994.

Pennington, Jean A.T., Anna De Planter Bowes, and Helen N.

Church. Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used.

17th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1998.

Zeman, Frances J., and Denise Ney. Applications in Medical Nu- trition Therapy. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1995.

Jessica Rae Donze

MEDIEVAL BANQUETS. Banquets during the European Middle Ages were often given on such impor- tant ecclesiastical feast days as New Year and Pentecost. But the greatest ones for which we have records were given for weddings and the coronation of kings or in- stallation of bishops. There were also banquets for fu- nerals, the coming of age (or knighting) of a son, or such lesser occasions as a harvest, the feast day of the patron

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD AND CULTURE

saint of the local parish guild, various civic occasions, or even a tournament. Who was invited depended on the circumstances; wedding guests were apt to be family and close friends, as today, but many people of quite humble status would be included in festivities at a manor house.

This is not to say that banquets were frequent: they were very special occasions. Of the twenty-seven menus given in the fourteenth-century Menagier de Paris, a work compiled by an elderly Parisian for his young wife, only three are banquet menus: two for weddings and one for a civic event (Brereton and Ferrier, Le Menagier de Paris, pp. 175–190). The fifteenth-century English manor house of Dame Alice de Bryene, for which we have complete records of meals served over a period of a year (28 Sep- tember 1412–28 September 1413), had only one major banquet that year, serving dinner to 160 people on New Year’s Day. But it also provided fairly lavish meals to many of those involved in gathering the harvest in August, with several dinners for from forty to sixty guests, about twice the number usually present at Dame Alice’s table.

Menus

The food served was quite different in quantity, and in some respects nature, from everyday meals, which for most people were apt to start with (or, for the poor, con- sist of) vegetable pottages (soups or stews). For a ban- quet, vegetables, if any—in England, they rarely appear on feast menus—were vastly outnumbered by a parade of roasts or fish of all kinds, and more elaborate dishes. Even the pottages were usually ones considered as special treats, such as frumenty (a wheat or barley pottage) with venison, or a blancmange of chicken or fish in spiced al- mond milk, usually also containing rice.

What is most striking to the modern eye about the menus for important banquets is the number of dishes served. An extreme example is the banquet celebrating George Neville’s installation as Archbishop of York in 1465, which had a first course containing seventeen dishes, a second with twenty, and a third with twenty- three—not counting the “subtleties,” discussed below. Three was the normal number of courses for the high (head) table at an English banquet, two for lesser guests. At the coronation feast of Richard III, there were three courses for high table, two for the lords and ladies, and one for commoners—who included the Lord Mayor of London!

Usually the dishes given to those not at high table were a selection of those in the three-course menu, in- cluding the most basic dishes. A feature of the (fictional) thirteenth-century banquet of Walter of Bibbesworth (Hieatt and Butler, Curye on Inglysche, pp. 2–3) is that there was enough venison and frumenty for the “whole household,” clearly suggesting that not everyone got a taste of all the goodies that followed.

Manuscript 279 in the British Library’s Harleian col- lection gives two-course menus for “the lower part of the

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