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Egg Production

How did medieval monks eat their eggs?

February 10, 2012

Across the various sections of WATTAgNet.com, you’ll regularly find previews and reviews, but we rarely delve back very far. However, a restaurant in the UK city of Newcastle, together with Durham University has delving back much further than we ever do.

In late January, the university partnered with Blackfriars Restaurant, housed in a building that started out in 1239 as host to a Dominican friary.

The initiative looked at medieval monks’ particular fondness for eggs, before serving up some the odd recipes they favored. While quantity and temperature instructions have not survived from the period, the restaurants’ chefs were able to serve up dishes fit for, well, a monk!

According to Durham’s Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, contrasting culinary views were held by various religious groups in medieval times. These included one order of monks which would only allow eggs to be boiled, considering anything else to be ostentatious and sinful, and another which used eggs in literally hundreds of different recipes.

The monks of the period were conscious of the cultural importance and the symbolism of food. Eggs were useful for fast days – they are neither meat, fish, nor fowl and so there were no restrictions on eating them for medieval worshippers.

And while the way that we eat eggs may have changed the value and versatility of the egg has not, and thankfully, few in world are going to accuse of gluttony or of indulging in physical pleasure if we do more than boil them.

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