Archaeologically inspired cookbook for "cavemen & Vikings"
- Salvete Omnes,
This is not Mediterranean but still very interesting.
Research-based cookbook for cavemen and Vikings
March 15, 2012 - 06:05
The first ever cookbook based on archaeological finds is now out in
English. The recipes are based on research from numerous archaeological
sites in central and northern Europe.
<http://sciencenordic.com/archaeology> , Food
<http://sciencenordic.com/food> , Nutrition
Send <http://sciencenordic.com/printmail/799> PDF
By: Jeppe Wojcik <http://sciencenordic.com/content/jeppe-wojcik>
[imagecache imagecache-440x] The illustrations in the book reflect the
supply of ingredients in the various eras, as here in the Neolithic
period. The children also took part in the cooking, for instance by
grinding grain. (Illustration: Communicating Culture & Atelier
Raw food. New Nordic food. Stone Age food.
Todayâs hottest culinary trends are inspired by the distant
past, and the number of restaurants serving prehistoric food is on a
The menu consists of seasonal, local ingredients, which ideally should
not be warmed up, and using processed ingredients is a definite no-no.
It seems that 16,000 years of gastronomic development has brought us
back to the beginning. But what exactly did people eat before the
advent of fast food and fine French cuisine?
A new cookbook, based on archaeological finds, could bring us a few
steps closer to an answer.
Ancient cuisine has long fascinated researchers
To the three archaeologists behind the new cookbook, âA culinary
journey through timeâ, ancient cuisine is not a new trend. They
published the first edition of the cookbook back in 1995, but now
itâs out again in a revised and expanded edition with rich
illustrations â" and in English.
[imagecache imagecache-620x] The cooking methods, the kitchen
equipment and the food culture in the illustrations are also based on
archaeological finds. Even the clothes and the clay jars are finds from
settlements or graves. The glass in the womanâs hand, for
example, was found at an excavation site in Sweden. (Illustration:
Communicating Culture & Atelier bunterhund ZÃ¼rich)
The book contains brief and easy-to-understand recipes, made from
ingredients that according to the authors were common in the seven eras
covered in the book.
Recipes based on archaeological soil samples
One of the authors, Sabine Karg, archaeologist, botanist and guest
researcher at the University of Copenhagenâs Saxo Institute,
explains how they managed to figure out which raw materials people used
in ancient times.
âOver the past 25 years I have studied and analysed plants from
numerous prehistoric trash layers and fire rings,â she says.
âWeâve found crusts, carbonised remnants, seeds, fruits,
bones, fish bones and shell heaps. This variety of ingredients has
helped us form an idea of what people ate in the old days, and
thatâs reflected in our recipes.â
Using various scientific methods, the archaeologists can reconstruct
the past diversity of utility plants. This knowledge can contribute to
their understanding of ancient food habits.
Authentic dishes from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages
The cookbook covers recipes from the Old Stone Age up until the Middle
Ages, from northern and central Europe. That way, the book not only
provides clues to the food preferences of the famous Viking, Leif
Erikson, but also those of Julius Caesar.
Itâs all based on archaeological finds. Weâve only used
ingredients we knew they used back then.Sabine Karg
What was on Caesarâs plate is particularly interesting because
the recipes from the Roman era are written by the star chefs from back
then. We know for instance that the Romans ate peaches in honey sauce
and battered ham.
The recipes from other eras have been reconstructed as accurately as
possible. This was done by only using ingredients that the authors knew
were used in the past.
Recipes divided according to seasons
The more than 80 recipes in the book reveal a diet thatâs
somewhat more varied than that of todayâs spaghetti sauce and
fast food lovers. Some of the fancier recipes include:
* Wild mashed apples with sea buckthorn
* Salted and dried sheep's rib steamed over birch branches
* Barley-lentil pot with blubber
The book is divided into seasons, with recipes suitable for winter,
spring, summer, autumn or year-round use. Each recipe has a symbol next
to it, showing which era itâs from. This could be handy if you
should find yourself in the mood for a fancy Bronze Age dish on a
Bringing the community spirit back into the kitchen
It has long been a dream for the three authors to create a large and
lavishly illustrated edition of their cookbook. Sabine Karg sees it as
her duty as a researcher to communicate science to everyone.
âItâs a way of giving something back to the taxpayer
â" by giving them access to my research.â
How the recipes were created
The archaeologists take soil samples from sites where they find plants.
The plants are then analysed and dated in the laboratory.
They then create the recipes based on the ingredients they knew were
available in the relevant period.
But the authors also wish to shake up the modern diet.
âIn our busy lives where cooking takes the lowest priority,
where we just eat a burger in passing while we work, watch TV or play
computer games, a bit of prehistoric cooking could be a way of breaking
these habits,â says Karg.
âThe many simple dishes in the book are ideal for family
projects, where the kids can join in. This could add a bit of extra
quality time to the cooking experience.â
âA culinary journey through timeâ
<http://communicatingculture.dk/> is published by Communicating Culture
and is available in English, German and Danish.
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