If you thought that the costumes were the best part of the Renaissance Fair - well, you’d be right, but in very close second place is the food! From hearty soups to modern takes on traditional old-fashioned dishes, the Ren Faire is the perfect opportunity to expand and refine your palate with a little help from your medieval forebears. So, what can you expect to eat at a Renaissance festival? Let’s take a look.
During the Renaissance era, food was just as class-divided as the clothing was - let them eat cake or something, right!? But it’s true; banquets were grand, often showcasing new and erotic flavors and spices that were new to Europe at the time, while poorer families often had to content themselves with cheap mead and pasties. And while food traditions in Europe are a lot more egalitarian today, you’re likely going to come across each of these different dishes, snacks, and authentic foods, no matter where in the world you attend a Renaissance faire. So what’s on offer?
Perhaps the most iconic of all Renaissance Fair foods, the roasted turkey leg is a must-try, especially if you’re new to Ren Faires. Think of it as the world’s first ever street food; the hot-dog of the Marie Antoinette era; grab a couple and wander around the fair as you eat!
Mead was a classic alcoholic drink in Renaissance Europe, and another must-try if you’re attending a Renaissance fair. Typically made from fermented honey - and much sweeter than the wines and other traditional European alcohols you’ll find in Europe today - you’ll usually find several vendors offering this on-site.
Stews were a staple in Renaissance cooking, most notably due to how easy they were to make. At the fair, you’ll likely find plenty of vendors offering both meat-based and plant-based stews, so diving into a bowl of rich, hearty soup is a must - just don’t spill it down your Renaissance dress!
No Renaissance Fair is complete without pastries; from meat pies to sweet fruit tarts, these are a great place to start if you’ve got a sensitive stomach and are wary of trying new things. Just think of it as a pastry from your local French bakery!
As mentioned earlier, don’t forget that Renaissance Europe wasn’t just about the French nobles or the Italian painters; many countries in Europe had already established food cultures and traditions by the 16th century, and you’re likely to be able to explore these at the Ren fair:
As you can imagine, Italian cuisine had a significant impact on Renaissance cooking; an impact that’s still felt when you visit the European continent today. And while you can sometimes find pizzas, it’s worth trying other authentic Italian dishes like pasta, risotto, or polenta, core symbols of Italian culinary tradition and staples from the Renaissance period.
The Brits aren’t exactly famed for their exotic foods, but that doesn’t mean they don’t taste good! The English cuisine of the Renaissance era was known for its pies and tarts, both savory and sweet, so you’ll no doubt find plenty of vendors selling pastry-covered snacks around the site. You might also be able to find authentic fried fish and chips, an enduring English classic and one of the more modern dishes on offer at Ren faires.
Spanish cuisine continues to have a significant impact on international cuisine, and these traditions began during the Renaissance era. If you’re a fan of Mediterranean dishes, keep a lookout for dishes with a Spanish twist; key ingredients like saffron and paprika can take even the most banal dish into an exotic culinary experience.
While we might not think of Germany as a key culinary influence, German food did have an impact on Renaissance dining tables - and you can find evidence of this at almost any Ren Faire via all the stalls selling hot sausages or homemade rye breads. Grab a bratwurst sausage and some bread for tomorrow’s toast, and experience the culinary life of an ancient German!
When we think of the Renaissance period, we think of France, right? It’s impossible to deny France’s impact on the Renaissance, and this includes cooking traditions; from exquisite, art-like pastries to indulgent cheese boards, Renaissance food à la Francais might be some of the best you try on the day. Indulge in an authentic croissant or a slice of brie - who needs to go to Paris to experience authentic French dining?
While we did touch on Spanish influences above,don’t forget the Greeks! The sunny Mediterranean’s contribution to Renaissance cuisine includes olives, wines, and other delicacies that were once considered exotic in the Renaissance era. These items, now staples both at Ren faires and on the streets of Europe - are a must-try at your next festival.
So, if you’ve ever wondered where you could sample all the best elements of European cooking in one day, try the Ren Faire! But don’t forget to look the part; at Holy Clothing, we offer authentic and hand-crafted dresses for the occasion; from a Renaissance style dress plus size to more elaborately themed costumes and cosplays, we can help you turn your next festival outing into an immersive, medieval experience.