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Human Diet Series: What Do Traditional Peoples Really Eat? Merrie Olde England
Animal foods of every description; various sorts of puddings; seafood for fast days; dairy products; soups formed the mainstay of peasant diet; grains: rye, barley and oats, made into coarse gruels or cakes. Wheat was used for bread-making. White bread made from refined flour was available since medieval times. The lower classes ate dark coarse bread. White flour was also used for making pastries. Grains were also fermented into various ales and lagers. Farm families drank milk, buttermilk, or whey. There was a wide variety of vegetables, but the British considered raw fruits to be "unwholesome." Since the Crusades, a variety of spices and other exotic foods had been available: saffron, mace, dates, nutmegs, ginger and sugar. Sweet desserts were made with sugar, which was available since the time of the Crusades. In fact, it was the British demand for sugar that fueled the era of exploration and colonization. [We apologize for the formatting issues in this article. We are working to fix them all.]