[Sca-cooks] Period Portable Lunch Foods

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Sun Feb 8 11:25:20 PST 2009

There is a region in Spain north of Madrid in Leon called the Maragato. 
It is known for the people called the maragatos who isolate themselves 
from the Spaniards. Some theories are that they date back to Arab 
occupation. When the Christians threw the Arabs out of the area these 
Arabs stayed on and are still there today  They do not mingle with 
others like the Amish although they are RC's. These people were known 
for being very honest muleteers who exported and imported foods and 
other merchandise to and from various regions of Spain. George Borrow 
when selling his Protestant Bibles in Spain during the 19th Century 
depended on them as he could not ride horses for the terrain there was 
so dangerous or find his way without these guides, although they date 
much further back.
Some claim that cocido is derived from the muleteer's lunchbox tradition 
others claim it is from Roman times. The maragato lunchbox had two 
levels, the lower contained coals and the upper food. When traveling, 
the muleteer would eat the pork or game, chickpeas et al  in his 
lunchbox, in other words the cocido. Then he stopped at a roadside inn 
where he would ask for a bowl of broth. This system came to be adopted 
in the home. At first Napoleon's troops looked askance at this system 
but found it the only way to alleviate a toothache by drinking the broth 
after so much chewing. In Leon if one of the guests eats too much and 
regrets it, he is told not to worry:/ "De sobrar, que sobre la sopa"/ 
(If anything is left over may it be the soup)./ /The soup can contain 
bread and a chopped boiled egg or a raw beaten egg (in mine it is only 
broth). Noodles were not included in the Middle Ages as they are today. 
/Cocido/ is made to last a week. It is kept on the coals in the kitchen. 
Shepherds and peasants too carry it with them to the fields and pastures 
in a lunchbox.
It is curious that Spanish records in general only refer to coldcuts and 
cheeses being carried in the saddle with red wine. Henry IV of Castile, 
Isabel's older brother, in the 15th Century, did not consume alcohol but 
died of ulcers for consuming the skin of intestines in which sausage is 
stuffed, which the body cannot digest. He was a saddle king for 20 
years. Washington Irving also describes his trip from Madrid to Granada 
in the 19th Century eating cheese and cold cuts if I recall correctly.

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list