In the Tudor period
1485 - Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth - 1603
―με μαχαίρι και τρόπους―
Manners makyth man,
William of Wykeham
Good manners, and particularly table manners, separated civilised people from animals and savages.
For example, civilised people cut meat into portions with knives before eating it, while animals and savages used only their teeth to eat meat and gnaw at bones.
ROYAL, NOBLE & SIMPLE TABLE MANNERS
―πιάτα, μαχαίρια, πιρούνια, κουτάλια, κούπες―
The higher one's rank the more complicated table manners, tableware and food preparation became.
At the lower level, women cooked and served the food in wood, pottery and pewter dishes, while the diners knew all the basic rules of using a knife and spoon, and how to eat and drink correctly.
In noble households, men cooked the food, which was served with great ceremony on silver dishes by specially trained gentlemen and squires who acted as the lord's carver, butler, and so on. They cut up the solid food he wished to eat and handed him his cup when he wished to drink.
―ψωμί με βούτυρο―
was a new meal in Tudor England and, if eaten at all, comprised something quick and simple eaten just after rising, such as
a buttered slice of wholemeal bread at 6 or 7am.
―γεύμα απο νωρίς―
was the main meal of the day, with a number of hot dishes served around 10am, so that the cook had sufficient time to get her fires lit, prepare her vegetables and boil her joints of meat.
―δείπνο ακόμη πιο νωρίς
όλα στο φως της μέρας―
a lighter meal than dinner but probably including hot as well as cold dishes,
was served around 4pm.
This is very early by today's standards, but allowed cooking, eating and washing up to be completed by daylight even in the middle of winter.
―η αποθήκη με τα βαρέλια κλπ―
This room had nothing to do with butter but was for storing beer (in barrels or "butts
"), supplies and equipment.
In larger households it was the province of the butler, and here we would expect to find:
Beer and cider barrels on stillages,
with tundish, forcets, spile pins and drip tun
Wooden jugs for serving drinks
Costrels for taking drink into the fields
Chest or perch containing table linen
Shelves or bench containing tableware
Jug and bowl for hand washing
Candles, rushlights, candlesticks, rushlight holders
Cleaning equipment: bucket, cloths, goosewings, besom.
Floor-strewing materials: field rushes, sand.
―το δωμάτιο του ψωμιού και κρύα πιάτα―
next to the buttery, was mainly used for storing bread
(French pain) and
other prepared cold foods needed for the meals served in the hall,
Bread (coarse and fine)
in bin or crock, with knife and
board Pies and cooked meats (left over from roasts)
on wood or pewter dishes
Cheese and butter
Sauces (mustard, green, garlic etc) in stoneware jugs
Apples and pears in baskets
Prepared ginger and comfits.
This is where all the household took their meals
It remained unheated and unlit throughout spring, summer and autumn, its central fireplace
only being used for log fires between All Souls Day (31 October) and Easter, to provide heat in the coldest winter months.
The furniture here included:
DINING IN HALL
―θέσεις στο τραπέζι―
As in the great halls of castles and manor houses, the leading members of the family and their guests sat at one side of a long table set against the end wall of the hall.
Besides enjoying the best of light and heat, it had a colourful textile hanging as its backdrop.
All other members of the household, including farm labourers and maids, sat at tables running down either one or both sides of the hall.
When tables were prepared for use they were first wiped down with
a damp cloth to remove every speck of dirt or smudge of grease.
The neatly folded table cloths were then brought out of the buttery:
one of white linen, perhaps with coloured bands woven in at each end was laid on the top table, while the other tables were laid with plain coarse canvas table cloths.
―τραπέζι για τέσσερεις―
In the Tudor period everyone except great lords dined in groups of four, each group
being called a "mess
" hence the
Officers' Mess, messmates, etc.
A salt-cellar, a saucer full of sauce (such as mustard) and a jug of beer sufficient for four people were taken from the buttery and set out at intervals along the tables.
The bread brought out of the pantry was probably of two kinds.
For the top table it might take the form of
"manchets", large individual rolls of white wheaten bread made light and airy by the use of ale yeast.
The other tables would have a large communal "cheat loaf" made of wholewheat sour-dough placed at each mess.
Both kinds may have had their crusty sides "chipped" off in the pantry using a sharp knife. Here too, four-day-old loaves of the coarsest bread were trimmed about three inches square and then cut into slices called
"trenchers" (French trauncher = to slice).
One of these was placed before each person instead of a plate, to act as their personal cutting board.
In the late Tudor period round wooden trenchers were beginning to be used.
―σερβίτσια, καθ' ένας το μαχαίρι του―
It now only remained to lay before each person at the top table a pewter spoon, a linen napkin and a wooden drinking cup.
Similar items but of lower quality were then set out for each person on the side tables. No knives were put out, as everyone -man, woman and child - carried a personal eating-knife in a scabbard hanging from their belt.
At 10am everyone assembled for their main meal of the day.
Since they had already been working for several hours and were now to use their fingers to handle their food, it was important that they washed their hands.
The family probably used a metal water jug and basin, and a linen towel, in their private rooms at the end of the hall, while a wooden tub and coarse towel by the entrance door probably sufficed for the farm workers and maids.
―περάστε, καθήστε, προσευχή―
Once everyone had come to their places, grace would be said and they would all sit down and cut their bread into fingers ready for the coming meal.
The first dish to be served was
This was the stock in which joints of meat or bacon had been cooked, enriched and thickened with boiled vegetables and/or oatmeal.
One communal dish
was placed at the centre of each mess - this being the -mess of
pottage- - from which each person spooned up the hot liquid into their mouths.
When they had finished, they cleaned their spoon with a morsel of bread so that it could be returned to the table ready for a further course.
MEATS & FISH
―κρέας και ψάρι, κοψε το δικό σου κομμάτι―
Solid foods such as boiled joints of meat or pieces of fish were served next to each mess.
To eat these, each person grasped the portion he wanted with the thumb and two forefingers of his left hand.
Then, taking his knife in his right hand with the haft in his
palm, he proceeded to cut off the portion and place it on his trencher.
Using his knife once more, he then divided it into small mouth-sized portions before putting his knife down and lifting a portion to his lips with the thumb and two forefingers of his right hand.
This neat method ensured that no-one ever handled anyone else's food, and only the right -clean- hand approached his mouth.
Tudor sauces had strong flavours and smooth, moderately thick consistency, like modern mustards or ketchups.
Since a saucer of the appropriate sauce was placed near the centre of each mess, it was quite easy for each person to dip their morsels of solid food into it just as they wished.
Anyone who wanted a little salt with their food would first wipe their knife clean with a
piece of bread, then use its tip to carry a portion from the salt cellar onto one corner of their trencher.
Here they could dip their food into the salt just before eating it.
Most ordinary households in the southern counties of Tudor England still drank their
―μπύρα και μηλόκρασο―
ale and cider
out of cups of lathe-turned ash wood.
In shape they resembled bowls about eight or nine inches in diameter, quite unlike the pottery cups of more recent times.
In use, each person helped themselves from the communal jug provided for each mess and
then lifted their cup to their lips supporting it with both hands.
This wise precaution prevented spillages if someone's elbow was knocked as they were drinking!
It is quite probable that everyone had a piece of cheese at the end of their meal.
Not only was this a staple food for ordinary people, but medical opinion believed that it kept the stomach open and so aided digestion.
―τα απαφάγια στους φτωχούς―
At the end of the meal all the scraps of food left in the dishes, along with the
bread trenchers now flavoured with meat juices, salt etc, were collected in a basket or dish called a "voider
". Having been carried to the door, its contents would be distributed to any poor people waiting outside.