For a week I want to eat a 'common man' diet from any place and era...

I mean diet as in “The usual food and drink of a person or animal” NOT “A regulated selection of foods for cosmetic weight loss.”

Quite awhile ago I was interested in survival foods and what it took to keep someone alive for a given amount of time. I went a week ingesting nothing but water just to see what it felt like.

I’m a historical buff too, and lately have pursued my interest in the kitchen to make plenty of dishes from historical eras…some with unfortunate results (‘hard tack night’ quickly turned into ‘pizza night’). In this quest I’ve searched for the common man’s diner because, shit, a 12th century Venetian could eat pepper if he had had the cash.

Recipes are tricky because food that isn’t very good doesn’t make it into the next generations cookbooks, but my main problem is that I’ve been unable to find accurate quantities.

I’m 6’1’’ and 210 lbs. so I’d be pretty large for a medieval peasant but still…what would I eat for a week on a viking ship headed for Lindisfarne? As a Roman grunt stationed on Hadrian’s Wall, what would my weeks ration be? Or a pyramid building slave? Dark Age Benedictine monk?

I expect it to be dull and bland…I also expect to drink a lot of booze (which will make this really interesting)

Any recipe cites would be appreciated but if they included historically accurate quantities you’d be worshiped.

There’s an English TV series called The Supersizers Go… in which these (very funny) two people (a journalist and a comedian) spend a week doing almost exactly that- eating “typical” foods from the Edwardian Era, or WWII London, or the Roman era, the Regency period, and so on.

Well worth seeing, and very interesting!

I’m all over it, thank you sir.

Anyone else?

Well all of your examples are European from a relatively short time period (for human history). Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Here is a site that features recipes taken from actual cook books from the high and late middle ages. Though I doubt that the those dishes would have been “common man” fare considering the amount of meat and spice they feature.

When I was studying Anglo Saxon/Danish Viking language in college I remember reading an archaeological source that showed that they ate surprisingly well, and they ate a lot of food. I’ll see if I can dig up the source.

I also remember reading that French peasants in the Early Modern Age lived on a diet almost entirely of bread.

I fantasize about medieval meals where they serve an entire pig. A hunk of cow would be cool too.

That’s just what first came to mind. The title of this thread includes “…any place and era” and I really mean that.

Thats kinda my point. Some level of hunger is typically a part of the everyman diet so even if I get the recipe right I’m left wondering if I just ate a family’s portion.

It’s not quite common man but for common sailor Lobscouse and Spotted Dog is a cookbook full of recipes that an English sailor would have eaten at sea. I don’t have it myself but there’s at least one Doper that does who has tried a few of the recipes, a search might bring up the mention of it.

For added historical accuracy leave your flour out long enough for weevils to proliferate and adulterate your coffee with rat droppings.

Not really. In most places, in normal times, food was hardly being rationed on a hunger level. Some were better than others, but people managed to eat and have large families, so raw nutrition wasn’t a huge problem. What was a problem is that hunger could come around, periodically or in the odd famine from crop failure or war.

People in earlier times (especially the Victorian era, which is a period of interest to me) ate a lot more meat than we do now. Sure, if you were completely impoverished then your main meal for the day might consist of bread, onions, a piece of cheese, and a cup of tea, but for the “average” person there was usually plenty of food, although the concept of a “Balanced diet” was still in the future, from what I can tell.

On these boars within the past year, someone made the surprising claim that 19th Century gentry (coastal US) preferred chicken, and gave unwanted stuff like lobster to their servants. You should look into it.

My grandfolks lived on Martha’s Vineyard during the Depression, and to this day won’t eat lobster because apparently it was the only meat they could afford for several years after the economy tanked.

So at least to people living very close to the ocean, it was considered poor people food into the 20th century.

I read somewhere that there used to be a clause in the contracts for indentured servants to the effect that they’d only be served Lobster twice a week at most, such was its unpopularity with well-heeled folks.

I’ve heard similar stories relating to British prisoners of war taken during the War of Independence, too, but I sometimes suspect they’re apocryphal.

Hmmm, if you were Chinese in the southern half of the country, you ate rice and whatever veggies were in season.

For those of you dreaming about eating the whole pig, just remember that in any peasant era that ate the ***whole ***pig.

Dammit! How come you Brits always get the best shows??!!!

:slight_smile: Considered by far the worst meat, barbecued ribs were fit only for cotton picking slaves…

I guess I’m in this for the experience, not the luxury.

I’ve read that because lobster was so unpopular and generally not worth catching, they grew to much larger sizes than they do now. It was not considered unusual to see lobsters that were four or five feet long.

That and food preservation. A typical serf would stuff himself fat in October only to chew on wood bark in March.

Any booze would likely be “small beer”. It was a weak ale of about 3% abv. It’s enough booze to kill off some water borne bugs, but it’s supposed to hydrate you not get you drunk. Because the water might kill you.

Fantastic post/name combo.

Wasn’t mead like 9% though?