Now that the holidays have come and gone, we can all loosen our belts and start thinking about how to negate all those Christmas cookies, cups of eggnog, and extra helpings of turkey with gravy. If it makes you feel any better, the rich in the Tudor period gorged themselves on a regular basis, and didn’t feel the guilt (not even the Catholic ones!).
Meat made up 75% of their diet, which might have meant roast beef, roast pork, roast tongue, peacock royal, and meat pie …and that’s just one course! They also feasted on rabbit, boar, pigeon, sparrow, badger, hedgehog, and blackbirds. They kept freshwater fish alive in ponds on their properties and crammed saltwater fish into seaweed-packed barrels. Fish was important as meat was not eaten during Lent or on Fridays for religious reasons.
Those who were part of the Tudor court downed roughly 300 barrels of ale in a year; the same for wine. (Water was considered unfit to drink, and what with the plague and other nasties going around, who wanted to take the chance?)
The rich, which of course included the royals, not only piled on the meat and bread heavily, they considered fruit, veg, and dairy to be just for the poor. This led to lots of mild scurvy about, and I would think it also meant a painful time in the loo.
As the Tudor period went on, sugar became a hot commodity. Only the loaded could afford it, and so only the loaded had those attractive rotten teeth which caused Elizabeth I so much pain and suffering in her later years. No matter, if a person couldn’t afford the sweet stuff, they might deliberately blacken their teeth to make themselves appear rich enough to actually have rotten teeth. Now isn’t that messed up!