[Sca-cooks] 10th cent Welsh foods

Volker Bach carlton_bach at yahoo.de
Sat Mar 29 15:45:20 PDT 2008

>Looking to do a Feast in my persona of 10th Cent
>Welsh.  The thing is I am having trouble finding
>sources and documention.  If anyone can help.

Oooh, this one is going to be fun. How much time do
you have till launch date? 

As others have pointed out, there are no recipes. I
think your best approach will be to combine educated
guesswork with experimentation. There are several
avenues you may want to explore:

- archeoology. Does Wales have anything like Haithabu
or York in terms of waterlogged organic finds?
Archeobotany should be a goldmine in any place so wet.
That can give you an idea of the kinds of animals and
plants certainly consumed in the area at the time. The
same goes for cooking implements and, if you are
lucky, even kitchen setups. 

- literature. Wales has Dark Age law codes, doesn't
it? How close do the epic poems come to the time? I
haven't seen this done for Wales, but when I was at
Trinity, a lecturer gave a very credible account of
Irish upper-class foods from the Brehon law,
archeological evidence, monastic accounts and the
unpronounceable song about that cattle raid (Taine bo
Cuailgneagheounghhethieanieoe or something). 

- broader context. What contacts would your persona
have had? What kind of exotic foods and foodways would
he have been exposed to? (In this context, 'exotic'
would mean Frisian, Viking, Anglo-Saxon, Irish,
Breton, Gascon or Frankish rather that Arab or East
Asian). Frex, what about Latinity? The 9th century
Lorsch medical MS preserves a stripped-down version of
Anthimnus 'Observance of Foods' clearly included as
valuable medical knowledge. Would you have been part
of that cultural sphere? 

- traditional culinary techniques. Some regional
practioces go back pretty much forever and can lend
local flavour to an otherwise 'generic barbarian'
booze-up. Jacqui Wood's 'Prehistoric Cooking' does a
good job looking into some of these. 

The advantage is that without hard and fast recipes to
follow, you can actually cook up things that match
your evidence and please your palate. It can be fun.
Not anything you could put in as an A&S project, but
if you stay within the bounds of plausibility (and
please, no honey butter - all references I have come
across are biblical) you will do just fine. 


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