3. The High Middle Ages (ca. 1000-1250)
The beginning of the high middle ages is marked by some deep going political and social changes. A rapid increase in population, development of the doctrine of the three estates, high number of founding of new cities, new plough constructions, three field crop rotation, improvments in coinage, livestock breeding, gardening and horticulture are the characteristics of this process - brought forward by the medieval climate optimum. By strengthening its position the church could gain influence on daily live - which also meant putting restrictions on food habits and diet, e.g. lent and fast days.
Despite the high efforts in land cleaning and the population of even most inhospitable landscapes, the arable land did not suffice to nourish the high number of inhabitants. This meant the beginning of the migration to the east (mostly modern times Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, in lesser dimensions also Hungaria).
Cereals became the major part of the diet - about 230-300 kg consumed per head a year - mostly prepared in pulses and potages. Wheat was still a luxury good. Due to the heavy clearing of the forests, livestock ceeping decreased because of lack of pasture. The availability of meats decreased, too, especially as the nobles could gain nearly complete controll over hunting and fishing rights to ensure their favorit past time pleasures.
The increase of population and the change towards cereal diet caused the food economy to be prone to the influence of bad weather, war and such which could cause bad harvests and devastating famines. Another result of the high content of cereal foods was the spreading of ergotisme since the 11th and 12th centuries.
As before, the sources for the area of cuisine remain scarce. Minnesong, courtly novels and paintings are not detailed enough to give a detailed view on dishes and habits of preparation. The knee- to waist-high hearth and new forms of ceramic are introduced and there is an increase in metall equipment even in pourer housholds, also.
The crusades, the muslim occupation of the Iberic Peninsula and the muslim population of the norman kingdom of Sicilie brought European nobility in contact with oriental spices and cuisine followed by a revival of international trade. How deep the influence of islamic cookery on Europe has been is still hard to say. We lack european recipe collections. Some health regimina contain islamic recipes but it can not be said if these were used or only seen as collections of examples for combinations of ingredients thought to be especially healthy.