You’re just popped that can of your favorite soft drink and think to yourself, “Man, how did they not have soda in the middle ages?”
Well, they didn’t have Kool-aid, Gatorade, Earl Grey, Brita, or Starbuck’s either. Not even plain old coffee…How in the world did they survive?
Here’s what they did have:
Water – if water was boiled it could be purified, but people rarely drank it and when they did it wasn’t always boiled first. Water had too much bacteria in it. You know what went into the water? Shudder. Water ways were treated as a sewage of sorts. Excrement, trash, carcasses…
Ale – was made from grains and very thick. Think beer but not strained enough. Often they would drink watered down ale.
Wine – the poor had no wine, the middle class had watered down wine, and those with money generally had the good stuff.
Caudell – was wine or ale that was beaten with raw eggs to make a frothy beverage. I wonder if the guys who were trying to pump up their muscles devoured this drink often?
Cider – made from apples, but I wouldn’t serve it to your children today. It was usually mixed with mead or some other alcoholic beverage.
Mead – is an alcoholic beverage made from honey and grains. It was often flavored with hops to give it that bitter beer flavor. (There is a winery near my house that makes Medieval Mead. I’ve never tasted it, but now I think I have to!)
Milk – was for children only. Adults didn’t drink it. A milk-cow was considered a prized possession. Especially if the family was starving and the mother couldn’t nurse her baby. Those cows saved a lot of babies from starvation. Milk was also provided by goats.
Perry or Poire – pear juice…but again, don’t give it to the kiddies. It’s fermented, and similar to the cider.
Spiced wine – also known as Clarey or Claret. It was wine spiced with cinnamon or honey, and other spices.
Distillates – these are alcoholic beverages made from grains, and very strong. Think of liquor. (Whiskey was made quite a bit in Scotland)
Murrey – blackberry wine
Prunelle – juice of wild plums and berries, fermented into a wine or liqueur
Melomel – this is mead that contains fruit, like berries.
Methegin – was a type of mead made with spices.
Hippocras – mix of wine and spices
By the way, in medieval times it was okay to drink alcohol with breakfast. Do you think I could get away with it, if I said I was doing it for research?
"Oh, wine boy! Fill 'er up my lad."
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