I have a few different projects on the go at the moment, but right at this very minute, I’m thinking about Summer Coronation coming up, and the idea of eating like a Viking for the entire time I’m at the event. As far as I can see, this shouldn’t be all that difficult to do. I’m going to the event solo, as my husband doesn’t participate (and could very well be working all weekend, for all we know at this point), and only have to worry about myself. As far as limitations go, I don’t have any true food allergies, and only have one real limitation on what I’m cooking with outside of working within the Viking Age/Iceland parameter, and that is that I don’t eat any fish or seafood. We do know that the Icelandic Vikings *did* eat a lot of fish, but they also ate a lot of other stuff as well, so I’ll be just fine. I am a bit of a fussy eater, so you are not likely to see me trying things that are really bizarre (to modern palates, or at least the pickier ones), such as fermented shark fin or whatever. I am also “allergic” to alcohol (it’s really alcohol flush syndrome), alas, but I can at least handle things with the alcohol content cooked out of them.
I was fortunate enough to have taken an ongoing class on medieval cooking many years ago, and I still remember a fair amount from it. It wasn’t specific to the Viking period, but has served me well in general when it comes to period cooking. To start, there are two basic categories when it comes to period cooking. The first is working from actual extant cookbooks. This largely applies to later period cooking, such as the Renaissance and Elizabethan periods, as there is plenty of existing works from those times.
The second is what I call conjectural cooking – in which we take what we know about a place and time in terms of what was available for foodstuffs, and for preparation methods, and come up with plausible dishes based on those. This is what we mostly have to do with the Viking period, because (so far as I have seen) there is little to nothing available for actual extant recipes. I will be doing much of this, as well as trying out recipes and ideas that other folks have come up with.
If I get into lists of food available and such in this post, it’s going to end up so long nobody will read it, so for now, I present the menu I have come up with for Summer Coronation:
Friday: a travel day for me, and at the very most, I will be having dinner on site, but it will be cold meat, cheese, etc. that is easy to prep.
Saturday: this will be my main day for actually cooking
Breakfast – a porridge of barley, with blackberries, hazelnuts, honey and cream
Lunch – cold roasted chicken, flatbread, raw carrots and apples, and perhaps a salad of fresh vegetables if I am lucky (my cress may be ready to eat by then!). Also possibly a viking cheese, made by me!
Dinner – a stew made of beef, barley, onions, parsnips, and dill, likely with more flatbread on the side
For beverages, I generally keep to water at events, as I don’t drink, as I previously mentioned. For hot drinks, I will stick to peppermint tea, as peppermint was available in Iceland (It was mentioned in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias as early as 1240 AD as an herbal remedy, and gained in popularity over the next two centuries) and I actually love peppermint tea.
Photo taken by Chris Jones used with permission as it was posted on Flickr under a Creative Commons license here.