How to Make a Medieval Feast

Feasts in the middle ages were occasions of great excess in all areas from food to pageantry. School choirs, drama departments, and sometimes even civic organizations sometimes hold medieval madrigal feasts in celebration of the holiday season; the music and festivities of a madrigal event set the tone of a festive evening, while the food allows you to satisfy your guests' hunger. You may also choose to host a medieval feast for a special birthday celebration, a wedding reception, or other grand event. Knowing how to make a medieval feast helps you quench your guests' palates and imagination, and provide them a memorable and fun time, too.


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    Prepare foods for your medieval feast that are similar to those served historically. Large dinners in the middle ages consisted of many courses.
    • Begin with soup, broth, fruits and greens. These foods are digested easily and were often served at the start of the feast. "Sallad" or salad was a popular first course. Scallions, boiled carrots, lettuce, turnips, nuts, herbs, vinegar and oil could be used to make a salad. Breads were also served.
    • Cheese was often served both at the beginning and end of the meal. Many people considered cheese necessary for good digestion.
    • Follow the soup course with green vegetables and light meat courses consisting of poultry, lean meat, or fish. Frequently these meats where served with sauces.
    • Serve the heaviest, richest foods in smaller portions. These were served in the middle of the meal. Roasted meats were often served on the spit.
    • Sweets were served at the end of the meal, as we still do today. Fruits, cakes and puddings are desserts you could serve at your medieval dinner. As mentioned earlier, a last course of cheese can also be offered.
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    Serve wine, ales, and beer throughout your feast. Non-alcoholic fruit juices and ciders can also be served. The important thing is to never let your guests go thirsty.
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    Employ colorfully dressed servers to bring in the courses and serve the food. Servers also brought in basins of perfumed water and napkins so guests could wash their hands.
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    Decorate your table with white cloths, candles, plates and goblets. Try to make your table rich and elaborate with other historically-appropriate decorations. The medieval feast should always be colorful and visually exciting.
    • Use elaborate silver and gold candlesticks. Lots of candles were used to illuminate dark halls.
    • Plates were made of silver and gold for the wealthiest diners, but ordinary guests used pewter or even wood platters.
    • Try to find a large saltcellar to display at the right hand of the "master of the house." Salt was a precious commodity used to both season and preserve food. It was stored in a special container and given pride of place.
    • Spoons and knives were the chief utensils used at a feast during the middle ages. Forks were rare. It was normal for guests to simply use their fingers to pick up their food.
    • Drinking vessels were usually made of pewter or wood. Glass was rare but was used more often as the middle ages progressed. Very wealthy people used silver and gold.
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    Entertain your guests throughout the evening and between courses with musicians, minstrels, actors, fools, jesters, acrobats and other performers.
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    Design a fantastic spectacle food called a "soltetie" to present to your guests. These were usually crafted of sugar and made to look like something fanciful. Disguised food was also very popular. For instance a cake would be made to look like a pig's head or a fish.
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    Allow a lot of time for your feast. Don't rush the meal or festivities. Medieval feasts historically went on for hours.
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    Follow your feast with music and dancing. People in the middle ages loved to dance and then, as today, used dancing as a way to meet people of the opposite sex.

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