Research Centre for the History of Food and Drink The University of Adelaide Australia

Research Centre for the
History of Food and Drink

University of Adelaide
North Terrace
ADELAIDE SA 5005
 
Tel: +61 8 8313 5570
Fax: +61 8 8313 3443
 

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A DIET FOR THE PLAGUE

By A. Lynn Martin

During the sixteenth century, when epidemics of plague approached colleges belonging to the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits staffing the colleges had two options: either to flee or to remain in the colleges shut off from contact with the outside world. Those who remained tried to avoid infection from others by laying in a store of supplies before the arrival of the epidemic. Guidelines suggested the type of supplies to purchase so that the Jesuit community could ride out the epidemic in the comparative safety of their colleges. One set of guidelines recommended the purchase of "grain (and flour if there is not a mill in the house), wine, oil, ham, bacon fat, cheese, spelt, rice, beans, barley (for water and for orzata [a barley-flavored syrup]), almonds, raisins, nuts, . . . anchovies, olives, garlic, onion," and it also suggested that Jesuits make arrangements for a fresh supply of vegetables, veal, and eggs.

They had all the necessary ingredients for the veal and ham pie.

From A. Lynn Martin, Plague? Jesuit Accounts of Epidemic Disease during the Sixteenth Century (Kirksville MO: Sixteenth Century Publishers, 1996), p. 126.