What was on the tavern menu?
Whatever the cook decided to make that day. Visitors to the tavern could not order from a menu unless it was a very large and fancy tavern. The cook would decide what to make depending on the season of the year and what she was able to buy from local farmers or fishermen. Taverns near the sea would have fresh fish available, while those located near inland farming communities might have plenty of ham or bacon instead. In the summer there would be an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, but in the winter the cook would rely heavily on preserved food that was smoked, dried, or pickled.
Tavern visitors did not expect a wide choice, and, especially in rural areas, they did not expect very high quality. If the food was edible, that was enough. Travelers were pleasantly surprised if they happened to visit a tavern with delicious food, and sometimes made notes about the experience in their diaries. In the city, where there was more competition for customers, taverns would compete with each other to offer the best food or the best ale.
A Tavern Recipe to Try
2 cups of shredded cheese, any variety. It is nice to mix colors, or have some mild cheese mixed with some sharp flavors.
¼ cup butter, more or less. This is to soften the cheese.
1 or 2 tablespoons mustard, according to taste. This is prepared mustard, not mustard powder.
1 or two tablespoons apple cider. A little more may be needed if the cheese is very dry.
1 teaspoon curry powder
a dash of cayenne pepper powder
Mix cheese, butter, mustard, and cider in a mortar with a pestle, or pound in a wooden bowl until the mixture is smooth. Add more butter if it is too thick. Once the mixture is soft, sprinkle the spices on top and mix them in. Adjust spices to your taste.
Serve on crackers or bread. It is delicious melted.