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marycatelli

A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food

A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food:  Processing and Consumption by Ann Hagen

Intensive treatment of the subject.  With discussions of how we can piece it together.  Everything from the recipes given in leechdoms to archaeological evidence, like the sieved spoon buried with ladies, probably used when they were serving the wine or mead at the great feasts, to the fact that "lady" means "bread-kneeder" so probably women made bread.

It covers everything from drying kilns used for grain, dairying, and butchery -- through storage such as brining and smoking -- cooking -- to the great patterns of feasting and fasting throughout the year.

All sorts of tidbits.  Pork goes bad easily, so they never ate in the summer.  They boiled just about everything because that would economically preserve as much as they could of the food.  Roasting was a luxury.  It was said that eating acorns and fresh fruit during pregnancy would make the child stupid, but then, since those were famine foods there might be another reason.  The feasting halls were called "the wine hall" or "the mead hall," which gives you an idea of what was really important in the feasts.  The vast importance of bread for food -- and apparently butter was plentiful, because writers said of more southern climes that they used olive oil the way the Ango-Saxons used butter.  How people would sell themselves into slavery to get food -- one law provided that a man could sell his son under seven into slavery in case of necessity, but after seven, he needed the boy's permission.  Minstrels and servants at the feast.

Neat stuff.
Tags: history reviews: medieval, world-building: food, world-building: servants
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