The type of food available to people in medieval times depended largely upon their social class. Nobles had access to foreign foods, spices and meats while the poor only had what was readily available to them, such as cereal grains, barley, oat and rye. Curing, transportation and the upkeep of meat made it an expensive commodity.
Religion was also a large influence on the consumption of food in medieval times. Catholics and Christians sometimes had to go several months without eating meat, with the exception of fish. These fasts were not to cleans the body of food or to say that a certain food was bad, but more so to show constraint. In medieval Europe, two meals a day was the social norm. It was also a social status because the nobility could afford not to eat a third meal, due to the lack of manual labor. Breakfast was looked down on and considered a meal for the weak and elderly. It was considered immoral to break a fast to early. Meals were often eaten as a group or family, even the servants would join. Eating by one’s self was looked down upon.
Etiquette was very different for the rich. Cleanliness was emphasized by the use of hand towels before meals. Women weren’t even allowed to participate in large feast because of the stringent views that they were to be neat and delicate at all times. Women had to seclude themselves to private quarters during these times.