Monday, December 12, 2016


School Meals

Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540), Tudor School-Boy Life: The Dialogues of Juan Luis Vives, tr. Foster Watson (London: J.M. Dent & Company, 1908), pp. 27-29 (from Dialogue VII = Refectio Scholastica—School Meals; division numbers and headings omitted):
Piso. Our early breakfast is a piece of coarse bread and some butter or some fruit as the time of the year supplies. For lunch, there are cooked vegetables or pottage in pottage-vessels, and meat with relishes. Sometimes turnips, sometimes cabbages, starch-food, wheat-meal, or rice. Then on fish-days, buttermilk from butter which has been turned out in deep dishes, with some cakes of bread, and a fresh fish, if it can be bought fairly cheap in the fish-market, or if not, a salt-fish, well soaked. Then pease, or pulse, or lentils, or beans, or lupines.

Nep. How much of these does each get?

Piso. Bread as much as he wishes; of viands as much as is necessary not for satiety, but for nourishment. For elaborate feasts, you must seek elsewhere, not in the school, where the aim is to form minds to the way of virtue.

Nep. What, then, do you drink?

Piso. Some drink fresh, clear water; others light beer; some few, but only seldom, wine, well diluted. The afternoon meal (merenda) or before-meal consists of some bread and almonds or nuts, dried figs and raisins; in summer, of pears, apples, cherries, or plums. But when we go into the country for the sake of our minds (recreation), then we have milk, either fresh or congealed, fresh cheese, cream, horse-beans soaked in lye, vine-leaves, and anything else which the country house affords. The chief meal begins with a salad with closely-cut bits, sprinkled with salt, moistened with drops of olive-oil, and with vinegar poured on it.

Nep. Can you have nut or turnip oil?

Piso. Ugh! the unsavoury and unhealthy stuff! Then there is in a great vessel a concoction of mutton broth with sauce, and to it, dried plums, roots, or herbs as supplements, and at times a most savoury pie.

Nep. What sort of sauces do you have?

Piso. The best and wisest of sauces, hunger. Besides, on appointed week-days we get roasted meat—as a rule, veal; in spring sometimes, some young kid. As an after-dish a little bit of radish and cheese, not old and decayed, but fresh cheese, which is more nourishing than the old, pears, peaches, and quinces. On the days on which no meat may be eaten, we have eggs instead of meat, either broiled, fried, or boiled, either singly by themselves or mingled in one pan with vinegar or oil, not so much poured on as dropped in; sometimes a little fish, and nuts follow on cheese.

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