Traditional English Food of the 1600s

Written by ray byrnes
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Traditional English Food of the 1600s
English cuisine of the 1600s was characterised by local and imported food. (Flag of England and St George on church steeple image by Aride images from

The 17th century was one of turmoil in England, characterised by the dissolution of the established government through civil war and the subsequent re-establishment of the monarchy. This occurred largely as a result of an emerging class of wealthy landowners, which lea to an increased establishment of towns where food became a greater luxury than in centuries prior.

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When the monarchy fell after the civil war, many established chefs lost their jobs. Trying to find new ways to make money, many of these chefs went on to write cookbooks. Because these chefs were trained in classical ways, these books often focused on traditional cuisine and customs, and these characteristics spread among this emerging, wealthier class.


The overthrow of Charles I and the subsequent dissolution of the traditional monarchy into a commonwealth, eft many longing for traditional, pre-war customs. Many of the new recipes that popped up during this period reflected this nostalgia.


French dishes dubbed kickshaws, from the French word quelquechose, meaning "something," contained imported delicacies such as capers and snails. The English also learnt during the 1600s that it was safe to eat raw fruit and vegetables, and salads became commonplace.


The first English coffee house, St. Michael's Alley Coffee House, opened in 1652. Coffee houses in England became known as penny universities because many educated people frequented the houses for conversation, and coffee cost a penny.

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