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How to Fill a Royal Belly: Feasts for Kings

Back in medieval times, kings ate the best of anyone around. Most peasants would be sitting around chewing on sticks and on old grass, but not a king – no way. Kings ate the finest foods around. One of the finest foods around in medieval times was mushroom soup. If you’ve ever had mushroom soup today, you know that it’s might tasty. But the thing is, back in medieval times, people didn’t know which mushrooms were safe to eat and which ones were poisonous. Now of course the king isn’t going to chance eating a poisonous mushroom, so what did he do? Read on.

What the king would do to make sure he wasn’t going to be eating a mortal mycelium was that every mushroom that was brought before the king was cut in half. The king’s official taste tester would eat one half of the mushroom, and then if the taste tester hadn’t died by the next day, the mushroom was deemed safe to eat, and the royal soup was made. As you might imagine, this job had a very high fatality rate for the taste testers. It also did not really work all that well as a filtering method for weeding out poisonous mushrooms, because some mushrooms take more than a day for their poisonous natures to take effect.

This happened most notably to Eric XIV, the king of Norway in the middle of the thirteenth century. His taste tester dropped dead three days after eating a particularly tasty mushroom, and since Eric had eaten the mushroom the day after the tester, he knew he only had one more day to live. So what did he do, write out his last will and testament? Never! He ate as many mushrooms as he could, since he was going to die anyway.