What tableware is made of stale bread?

A trencher (from Old French tranchier “for cutting”) is a type of tableware commonly used in medieval cuisine. A trencher was originally a flat round of bread (usually hard) that was used as a plate, on which food could be placed to eat. The easiest way to use stale bread? Make breadcrumbs. You can toast them or leave them raw and then put them in the freezer for later use.

The stale bread will absorb all those delicious sweet custard from the bread pudding. Stale bread is an excellent thickener for soups, whether you crumble it or use it in large, thick pieces, such as ribollita. Fresh breadcrumbs are a next-level dressing for mac and cheese. In the Middle Ages, plating basically consisted of serving stews or porridge in trenchers: hollowed out plates cut from loaves of old bread, the rancier the better.

The rest of the population used knives and fingers to eat, and not much crockery was needed. Mix 3 cups of 1-inch broken stale bread with 3 tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stale bread absorbs custard much better and the result, once baked, is soft and relaxing and full of a beautiful flavor. But there is a lot of visual evidence of what cutlery and crockery looked like, for rich and poor.

I found in some places that, during Roman and medieval times, people did not use plates, but rather “trenchers”, which are plates carved from stale bread that could have been eaten after having eaten the food or given to the poor. And I've read that not only did the poor eat on stale bread plates, but that a whole family would probably have eaten stale bread from a ditch.

Bobbi Zwingman
Bobbi Zwingman

General travel nerd. Unapologetic beer ninja. General coffee buff. Passionate twitter specialist. Freelance twitter nerd. Incurable twitter specialist.

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