‘...he is counted the finest Cooke nowadays, than can invent new fashions, new divices and new disguises.’
(J Russell’s Book of Nuture, c.1430-70)
The choice and quality of food and drink available in London was the finest in England. The City controlled market prices and maintained stockpiles of corn and fuel in Southwark. Fast-food restaurants or ‘Cookshops’ offered hot cheap meals, and Londoners could buy pancakes, eel pies, muffins, baked apples and other tasty snacks from street hawkers.
Londoners admired culinary skill, but some complained that the wholesome tradition of English cooking was at risk from foreign influences. Men held the most prestigious, high-profile catering jobs, but there were many women cooks in London too. Some inns and taverns developed reputations for fine cuisine and special alcoholic beverages, and their cooks acquired such expertise that they were given a nickname like Goodwife Oddye or ‘Wife Mampuddinge’ of Tower Street.