Louise Wilkinson

Menus of the Middle Ages

The Culture of Food in England 1200–1500


Yale University Press 341pp £30 order from our bookshop

The economic, religious and social importance of food in the Middle Ages is a subject that is attracting increasing attention from historians. It’s a reflection, perhaps, of our own society’s obsession with culinary experiences and the senses. In this meticulously researched study, Christopher Woolgar serves up a feast of information about food in medieval England. Drawing on a wealth of material, including household accounts, cookery books (more than four thousand medieval recipes survive to this day), literary works, miracle stories, monastic regulations, town ordinances, coroners’ rolls, and contemporary illustrations, architecture and objects, he explores both perceptions of food in the period from 1200 to 1500 and the manner in which foodstuffs were obtained, prepared and eaten. At the heart of Woolgar’s study is a highly compelling argument that food occupied a more significant, sophisticated and meaningful place in medieval culture than has often been recognised. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,