Saturday, 12 September 2009

What's For Dinner?

In Viking Age Iceland?
Oh my, now that's a poser!

And it's not a question I've ever considered before. Up till now, all the info I've accumulated on on Norse foodstuffs, or Viking Age cookery, has been by dint of taking every scrap of info and piling it into a not very big heap, and working with that. I've never worried about what was specifically available in one location simply because there's not a lot of information. Period.

It's far easier to wonder what they ate in France, 1550. Or Italy, 14th century. Even putting together the late period English menu was really only cheating a bit by looking to cookbooks a few years beyond, and they were only beyond ONE of the dates suggested by the theme of the event. No one ever suggested a specific date to me for the feast.

But when you pick early period, pre-cook book time periods, and then pick a country that doesn't really get chatted up in a big way in the reference material, then things get tricky.

I started by picking the brains of one of my favourite Icelandic archaeologists, and he helpfully passed along some info. But it's scarier by its 'lacks' rather than for its inclusions. He corroborated some casual info and facts I had stored in the back of my brain. Not much by way of game animals. Not a lot of indigenous fruits or berries. No real evidence of salt production. And he's thown some special spanners into the works as well, like no evidence of bread production till later. Eek.
All of a sudden things have got a bit tricky. A lot more thought is going to be required. Yes, a bunch of thinking and reading, indeed!

(All of a sudden, I'm hungry.)

Stay tuned, folks.