The Elizabethan time period was from 1550-1650. It was during the Renaissance in England, when Elizabeth I was queen. She had much influence over what was done and how things were done. Many things have changed since then, including the food we eat and how we eat it. Now, the food we eat is diverse and none too healthy. But during the Elizabethan time period, there were three main parts to eating. In this era, there was food for the rich, food for the poor, and etiquette rules that were to be followed.

Food for the Rich
The rich in Elizabethan Times ate very well. Most only ate two meals a day: a small meal at 11 and a large supper at around 4 (Balkwill). They would eat a small breakfast usually of a thick soup called porrige, bread, and cheese (Greeblatt 51). However, their main meal was in the evening (51). The rich would often hold banquets and feasts at the ruler's court (Balkwill 6). These feasts were huge. They normally consisted of more than 12 courses (Elgin 14). Some of these courses would have things such as roast meat, poultry, pies, salads, vegetables, sweets, and fruits & nuts (14). The rich also benefited from new foods from the Americas such as tomatoes, corn, ginger, and turkeys (King 15). Potatoes were known as a rare comodity in England, and were hardly ever eaten (15). Water wasn't a normal drink during this time, because it was not very clean, so they drank ale, apple cider, mead and other drinks ( Balkwill 9-10).
Food for the Poor

Poor people during this time period basically ate whatever they could get. They often got only the leftovers from the feasts at the ruler's court ( Fitzpatrick 131). Some only got a slice of bread and a chunk of cheese for a meal (Elgin 14). The ordinary grew most of their own food, which consisted of fruits, root vegetables, and grains (6,9 Balkwill). Meat was a rare treat that they hardly ever got (9). This diet, compared to the rich, remained low with scarce food.

Table manners, in general, were not very good during the Elizabethan Era. People would use they're fingers to eat, which seems rude now, but was perfectly acceptable then (Elgin 15). Some rich though ate with knives and spoons, but didn't use forks (Greeblatt 51). Lower class people ate with only knives and sometimes used cups for soup ( 51). Some manners were legit at the time. There was always a prayer recited after everyone washed their hands before and after every meal (51). Cloth napkins were used by men, who would keep them over their shoulders, and women, who would hold them on their laps (51). People also began to place tableclothes on tables (51). However, they were still far from pleasant to eat with.


During the Elizabethan Era, food was served in many ways. There was food for the rich, which was plentiful and expensive. Poor people made due with leftovers and food grown by their families. Etiquette wasn't the greatest yet, but it was working its way to better manners. All Elizabethans ate food that, now, might seem strange. But there was never a lack of it.