It’s time for Friday Fun! Have you ever wondered where the phrase “a good square meal” came from? Or how about, “the upper crust“?
These phrases are connected and come from the Medieval table. Pull up a stool, to a time before forks were used in Europe. Forks were first introduced from Byzantium (who acquired them from the Middle East) by the wife of the Doge of Venice in the 11th century, but it would be centuries before they became common at European dining tables.
Look down at your place setting at this Medieval table. You have no forks. Your beverage will most likely be some form of ale, regardless of your age. The waters were so polluted, that brewed beverages were the healthful solution. They were watered down, though, and so were much weaker than one might think.Tea, coffee, and even sugar have not yet entered European life.
Now, take a look at your plate. “What should I picture?” you might ask.
What your plate looks like is dictated by your social standing. If you’re of high standing your plate will be metal. At the other end, if you’re a lowly peasant you will be eating from a trencher. A trencher was formed from the bottom crust of the bread. You guessed it, the top crust was cut off and given to the nobility. Hence, they are the upper crust. If you’re in the middle- a merchant or apprenticed to one, you eat off of a wooden plate. The plate is square in shape and thus you were eating, as you moved up in society from the peasant class, a good “square meal“.
My best to you all,