English Horse-bread, 1590–1800

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    Authors & editors

    Rubel, William D [Author]

    Publisher Article in Gastronomica
    Year of publication 2006 August, 6(3):40-51

    Medium Digital
    Note: Copyright restrictions mean the attachment below only contains part of the publication. The full document is available for inspection at the Mills Archive Research and Education Centre.

    Economics & commerce > Feeding the World
    Nutrition & health


    Scope & contentExtract from the introduction:
    More refined than hay or raw grains, and thus a denser source of calories and protein, horse-breads enabled tired horses to rebound from their exertions. As an early eighteenth century writer put it, horses “cannot so soon recover with Hay or Grass, as with Horse- breads.”

    For centuries, in addition to being a feed supplement for tired horses, these breads helped feed the countryside during famines and were eaten by the poor, even in times of plenty. They therefore provide a rare glimpse into the cuisine of English poverty.

    The elite horsebread literature suggests that people who could afford a choice in breads viewed bread as both a food and a medicine and decided what bread should be put on the table, at least in part, by considering the consistency of their stool.

    During the early modern period the bread literature devoted to horses far exceeded in quantity and nuanced detail the literature devoted to breads for English bipeds. It is a literature with a wealth of information for artisan bakers, culinary historians, historians of material culture, and students of manners.

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