CHEZ JIM BOOKS



FEASTING WITH THE FRANKS

The First French Medieval Food



The long history of la bonne chère

"Early monks in Gaul, constrained to the barley bread and greens of Eastern rules, complained that it was 'inhuman' to make 'us, men of Gaul' live like angels. In enumerating the qualities of the meals of Theodoric the Goth, Sidonius Apollinaris notes 'Gallic abundance' (abundantiam Gallicanam). Whether the Franks adopted this love of indulgence or simply introduced their own, they maintained Gaul's gourmet reputation. The writer of St. Odo's life describes his abstemious ways as 'against the Frankish nature' (contra naturam Francorom). In the ninth century, when Guy de Spoleto was being considered for the throne, the Bishop of Metz prepared him 'a great deal of food following Frankish custom'. When Guy demurred and said he would be satisfied with far less, the bishop decided one with such simple tastes was unworthy to lead the Franks. Paul the Deacon describes how Franks in Italy were tricked when the enemy appeared to have abandoned tents filled with various treats and a great deal of wine: 'they straightway became merry and eagerly took possession of everything and prepared a very bountiful supper. And while they reposed, weighed down with the various dishes and with much wine and sleep, Grimuald rushed upon them after midnight and overthrew them...' Clearly, the French love of la bonne chère has a long history, preceding the existence of France itself."


And just what did these early gourmets eat?
Read this book for the details
.



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Interested in medieval and other early French food?
Be sure to also visit the site on De Observatione Ciborum, the minisite
French Food Before Taillevent and the food history blog Les Leftovers.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Period and place

Gauls, Franks and food

Major sources

The approach

Foods

Meat and dairy

Pork

Beef

Sheep and goat

Horse and dog

Camels?

Dairy

Birds

Peacock

Eggs

Game

Fish, shellfish and cetaceans

Cultivation

Whales

Batrachians

Plant life

Cereals and bread

Pulses

Greens and roots

Fruit and nuts

Seasonings

Spices

Liquids and condiments

Summing up

Drinks

Water

Wine

Beer

Drunkenness

Hydromel

Aloxinum

Ciders and fruit and herb drinks

Other drinks

Curated lists

Lists for the elite

More limited meals

The food of the poor

The food of the holy

Preparing food

Cooking in general

Specific dishes and meals

Anthimus

Serving food

Early dining habits

Meals

Courses

Washing hands, napkins and utensils

Baths

Ceremonial

Lighting

Flowers

Entertainments

Household personnel

Tableware and furniture

Materials

Wood

Pottery

Glassware

Cups, glasses and dishes

Vessels

Furniture and rooms

Sites and structures

Dwellings

Kitchens

Hearths

Ovens

Storage

Infrastructure

Cities

Corporations

Trade: transportation, markets and fairs

Food and religion

The persistence of paganism

The fitful history of fasting

Feasting

Jews and Judaizing

Other interdictions

Blessing the food

Food and health

Food in medicine

Conventional medicine

Folk medicine

Food and illness

Health and nutrition in archaeology

Modern nutritional information

Livestock disease

Conclusions

Conclusions and comparisons



Appendix: Making early medieval food

Period techniques

Ingredients

Bread

Anthimus’ recipes

De Re Coquinaria (Pseudo-Apicius)

Meal order



Selected bibliography

Period sources

Selected papers

Survey works


Notes

Index






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Updated November, 2021