These Fascinating Medieval Food Habits Changed the Way We Eat Today

Markets did not carry much in the way of seafood, unless they were near the sea. Wikimedia

2. Seafood was limited to those living by the sea

For those living along the coastlines, a bounty was present for the taking, far more plentiful than today. Oysters abounded on all of the world’s seacoasts, and though it is unknown who first decided to eat an oyster, once started humanity consumed them with gusto. Clams and mussels were added to the diet too. They were eaten raw from the shell, or thrown on an open fire to steam in their own juices. Fish were taken from the sea to be eaten fresh, or salted and smoked for preservation. It is likely that salted fish was one of the first commodities sold to other consumers, rather than eaten solely by whomever harvested it.

Fresh waters, not yet polluted by the progress of humanity, yielded a bounty too, and those living near waterways found fish to be a major portion of their diet. The seasons were marked by the times fish ran in the streams, and early festivals of celebration surrounded the communal taking and salting of fish. Because it was so important in the preservation of food, salt was an expensive and highly cherished commodity. Near the coasts it was easily obtained, in the hinterlands less so, and it became an item of trade of significant value. Fish was a large part of the diet throughout the world, in all cultures, and at all meals.