As lovely as this stock image is, I think it is safe to say that this is NOT an example of the way breakfast would have looked for the average person in the 1600s in Wales.
Sometimes, doing the research for historical writing leads you down all sorts of strange rabbit holes. Who am I kidding? All it can lead to a rabbit hole. In terms of books, I feel like I should have planned for a larger budget for my writing.
I seem to spend a great deal of time focused upon food and the traditional methods of processing wool.
I was happy to discover that the 17th century in the United Kingdom brought tea, coffee, and chocolate into the diet of its citizens. Prior to that, it was ale for breakfast. As I sit here, writing while sipping coffee, I know full well that I will be sipping tea as the day goes on.
But, what of porridge?
Thank goodness my setting is in Wales, as oats were both a staple and a standard for breakfast as well as breads. It was an agricultural region, so the idea of “living off the land” was not an unusual one. Also, oatmeal abounded. Just about everywhere.
The puzzle for me is that, with all the research and reading, life sounds extremely difficult. Work was strenuous, anti-biotics did not exist, and the diet might be limited during bad years for farmers. Despite that, I have found that my own ancestors from that time period lived to much older ages than those who lived in the post-second world war period of the 1900s.
How is it that so many people could live to see their 80s in the 1600s, and 1700s, while people living after the discovery of penicillin didn’t make it anywhere near that far?
Of course, I have a theory. I think it was all of the oatmeal!