What Would Shakespeare Eat?

With the opening of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival‘s 2017 season just around the corner, I decided to dust off my Complete Works of William Shakespeare. We know that music be the food of love, but what is the food of, well, food, according to the bard?


Is it possible to create a whole meal consisting of Shakespearean snacks? What would that meal look like? Could it be a truly Moberly meal? Some Hamlet-level sleuthing was required (you know, without the stabbing).

Shakespeare on Beverages

Not surprisingly, given the location and era of Shakespeare’s life, he was all about the wine and beer.

“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety” – Henry V 3.2

“Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used” – Othello 2.3

Now, we’re not allowed to sell ale or wine, what with that whole LCBO thing. We DO, however, have a delightfully fermented beverage known as kombucha. It won’t give you much of a buzz, but the bubbles are as complicated as the Two Gentlemen of Verona plot, so it could be a reasonable substitute.

Shakespeare on Meat

Shakespeare’s references on meat are varied, and are usually some saucy code. But if we take his advice on meat literally, we learn a few things:

All meat is fair game:

“A’ shall answer it. Some pigeons, Davy, a couple of short-legged hens, a joint of mutton, and any pretty little tiny kickshaws [Shakespeare’s frequent substitution for the French quelque chose], tell William cook.” – Henry IV Part II 5.1

. . . but only while you’re young:

“A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age” – Much Ado About Nothing 2.3

And too much meat may make you rather stupid:

“But I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit” – Twelfth Night 1.3

Whether you choose to partake of the meat or not, we’ve got some options for you. Meat eaters – we have Rowe Farms and Life Choices meats, and an array of seafood for your consideration. For the non meat eaters, we have vegan replacements from Gardein, Tofurky, Field Roast, and many more.

Spices and Other . . . Aromatics

It’s an unfortunate (and I think untrue) stereotype that British food is without flavour. It seems, though, that our good pal Willy S. had a, shall we say, simpler palate.

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream 4.2

“O, he is as tedious as a tired horse, a railing wife; worse than a smokey house: I had rather live with cheese and garlic in a windmill” – Henry IV Part I 3.1

“Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon” – All’s Well That Ends Well 5.3

So maybe, if Shakespeare is on your list of dream dinner guests, keep the onions, garlic, and cheese to a minimum. But otherwise, we’ve got a great array of spices, and some truly delicious cheeses.

Shakespeare on Dessert

Okay, so, dinner was a bust, unless you’re happy to dine exclusively on meat and beer. But dessert options in the Shakespearean canon are more fruitful.

“My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn I saw good strawberries in your garden there; I do beseech you send for some of them” – Richard III 3.4

“Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?” – Twelfth Night 2.3

“They call for dates and quinces in the pastry” – Romeo and Juliet 4.4

We’ve always got many organic fruit options but, sadly, never any quince. Looking for a cake to go with your ale? Try our DELICIOUS Sweets From The Earth Carrot, Chocolate Fudge, or Blueberry Cheesecake.

Shakespeare knew a great many things, but I don’t know that I’ll be taking his advice on nutrition any time soon. If you need help in that department, come visit us. We have a knowledgeable staff, and an in-store nutritionist to help answer all your questions. We probably won’t answer them in iambic pentameter, but it’s really hard to make eicosapentaenoic acid fit nicely into verse.





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