[Sca-cooks] Jorvik Feast Day

King's Taste Productions kingstaste at comcast.net
Tue Oct 10 13:46:08 PDT 2006

Just in time to celebrate Leif Ericsson Day (Oct. 9th), we had feast day
in class.  I teach living history-style classes to kids, ages 6-9 and
10-16.  We are Exploring the Vikings now, and today was the day to talk
about food.  I always prepare a mini-feast for my food classes, and it
is usually the highlight of the session for everybody.  The classes are
back-to-back, one hour with the 4 teens, and then the next hour with the
12 kids.  The teens were told they had to try at least 5 new things, the
younger kids had to try at least 3 new things.  
I started out by making drinking horns for everyone.  I ended up using
large rawhide dog chewies, soaked them, cut out the shape with a pattern
I made, formed them around a small horn I own, dried them in my
dehydrator, and then coated the inside with beeswax.  They came out
pretty well, and were a good size for small hands. They got spoons and
no forks or knives, but we did give them napkins and a plastic cup.  
With the help of the good folks here, I discovered that Alder wood would
make the best smoking material, and I used a stovetop smoker at the
Viking Store (where I work - how ironic, eh?) to smoke a 14-inch side of
salmon.  I also prepared gravlax with another salmon filet, using salt,
sugar, brandy, dill, weight and time to cure the fish.  The rest of the
fish course consisted of herring - smoked, pickled and creamed.  Each
kid got a small plate with a very, very small taste of each fish.  The
smoked herring was incredibly salty, and the chunks I gave them were
tiny.  Still, some of them really liked that one the best.  We discussed
the fact that the diet would have included a lot of seaweed as well (I
thought about including some sort of sea vegetable, but it was late in
the day and budget.)   I have several vegetarians in class that didn't
want to try the fish, but then ate some of the pork later on.  :/   But
most of the kids tried at least two or three of the fish varieties, and
some found they even liked some of it.  All of the adults (and I)
thought the smoked salmon was outstanding.  :-)   I served them whey
left over from the cheesemaking to go with the fishes.  Very few gagged,
some said it was ok, they'd drink it.  About the same as I feel about
Next I explained that there were far fewer vegetables in their diet
then, and that there was no such thing as a Vegetarian Viking.  But,
since this was a feast day, we had some vegetables and another kind of
meat besides our fish, and I served a braised pork loin stuffed with
prunes.  I had split the meat, seasoned with salt, pepper, and ginger,
and then stuffed it with prunes, tied it up and braised in a covered pan
until cooked through.  I removed the meat and reduced the juices for the
sauce, adding a few more prunes and pureeing it with my stick blender.
(YUM)   Alongside of this I served the vegetables: barley cooked with
caraway, chives, garlic and served with lots of butter; and honey-glazed
turnips, carrots and leeks.  Just about everybody cleaned up the pork,
and many of them ate at least some barley.  The root vegs were eaten
pretty well, too. I served "mead" with this course.  I diluted honey
with water, simmered it with fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves, skimmed
the scum, and strained it.  But for the lack of yeast and time, it was
mead.  Added to the fact that they were drinking it out of
beeswax-coated drinking horns, and they loved it.  
Last I told them that while they didn't really eat dessert, we were
going to finish off our meal with some pancakes with berries, fresh
cheese, dried cherries, and cherry butter (puree).  I had organic cherry
juice to serve with this course, but many of them called lustily for
more mead!  The pancakes came out just fine with the eggs (bless you
again, Huette!), and were pretty popular, even though they weren't
sweet.  I made them with whole wheat pastry flour and barley flour,
salt, eggs, and blueberries, then baked them in the oven.  They were
somewhere between a pancake and an unsweetened fruit tart.  One of the
moms made some gluten-free pancakes with a blueberry sauce for our
sensitive folks.   The cherry butter was a commercial one sweetened with
white grape juice, so it wasn't overly sweet, but enough with the dried
cherries that they felt they had gotten sweet stuff.  I showed them a
ball of fresh cheese that I had made, and had the other one cut up and
put on top of the pancake slices.  We discussed the whey again, how the
cheese was made, and how nothing was wasted.  
During the meal, several of them got up and recited things they have
learned in class - some did their Odin's Proverbs that they had been
required to memorize (bardic tradition), a couple of the older kids had
written some saga-style poetry, and one young man (Tristan, who was the
6 year old that requested this class in the first place) stood up and
did a mini-kid's verson of Beowulf!  My apprentige Lady Ella and her
baby Eleanor came to class today as well, and she brought a display of
her bone carving, as well as having both of them dressed in lovely
Viking garb.  We had a few kids in class come in costume as well, so it
was very festive.  Mistress Isabetta and her daughter are part of my
class, and they made some barley bread with peas, and some flatbread.
At least one student said the barley/pea bread was his favorite!  We had
some rye bread and ryekrisp crackers there as well, and served some with
schmears of dill butter.  
All in all, a very successful day.  They loved the horns, we talked a
lot about what foods were available to seafaring people, and they got to
participate in a dining experience unlike anything they had done before.

Thanks to everyone that allowed me to interview them, provided me with
recipes and ideas, and above all the undying support!

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