5/20/2016 – Shakespearean Food


Welcome to Five Course Trivia! Five days a week, we’ll post five questions about something from the culinary world, from soup to nuts and all dishes in between.

“Unquiet meals make ill digestions.” ~Aemelia, The Comedy of Errors

As I’m sure you know, Shakespeare created most of the words you use everyday. And with a giant folio about every feeling and emotion mankind can come up with, hungry is certainly on that list. The Bread of Avon mentioned food hundreds of times in his plays, and he also mentioned hundreds of different foods in his works.

Today, we look at some of the foods that get a mention by Shakespeare. Enjoy!

1. Because their legs are both of a bigness, and a’
plays at quoits well, and eats conger and fennel…
Falstaff, Henry IV, Part II

The anise-ish herb of fennel is rarely eaten these days with eels as Falstaff dictated, but fennel is certainly eaten today, as it’s the main flavoring in what two-word meat seen here?

Question 1

2. Why, this was moulded on a porringer;
A velvet dish: fie, fie! ’tis lewd and filthy:
Why, ’tis a ___ or a walnut-shell
~Petruchio, The Taming of the Shrew

It’ll warm your heart to know that what bivalve should fill in the blank above? In the UK, they are seasoned with malt vinegar and white pepper, and in Wales, they are served with laverbread to consist of a traditional Welsh breakfast.

Question 2

3. Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons,
And made me climb, with danger of my life.
~Simpcox, Henry VI, Part II (which is a different history play than the one above)

What kind of fruit are damsons? The fruit used in a sloe gin is a close relative of this fruit.

4. Excellent, i’ faith; of the chameleon’s dish. I eat the air,
promise-cramm’d. You cannot feed capons so.
~Hamlet, Hamlet

What’s the basic difference between a rooster and a capon? Capons have been considered as a wealthier food, and in Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage”, the fifth stage is described as “The Justice, In fair round belly, with a good capon lin’d”.

5. And given to fornications, and to taverns and sack
and wine and metheglins, and to drinkings and
swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?
Sir Hugh Evans, The Merry Wives of Windsor

What traditional drink do you add spices and herbs like ginger, tea, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, or vanilla in order to get metheglin?

Bonus 6. Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more ___ and ___?
Sir Tony Belch, Twelfth Night

Fill in the two blanks. The phrase is now an idiom for “the simple material pleasures in life”, and this phrase titles a 1930 novel by W. Somerset Maugham.

Further study: You should take this Sporcle quiz to see how many of Shakespeare’s foods you can name. Besides getting answers right, it’s pretty fantastic finding wrong answers.

Next Monday: It seems that we haven’t covered steak yet as its own topic. That will be amended.


1. Italian sausage
2. Cockle
3. Plum
4. A capon has been castrated. (There’s an obvious joke here. I hope you can figure it out.)
5. Mead
6. Cakes, ale


2 thoughts on “5/20/2016 – Shakespearean Food

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s