Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

meat had a very general meaning, more or less equivalent to food, in early medieval times. So did the equivalent French word, viande; the first French cookery book, Le Viandier, was not so named because of any emphasis on animal flesh. ‘White meats’, in medieval English, were dairy products such as milk and cheese. Gradually, however, the meaning of ‘meat’ became more restricted until, with the exception of a few terms and phrases such as ‘sweetmeat’ and ‘meat and drink’, it came to refer solely to the flesh of animals used as food.