On Apr 3, 2007, at 6:58 AM, Beth Lokey wrote:
> Does anyone know of any period Welsh or Viking cookbooks or
> recipes? I'm
> trying to help someone out with some research.
On the Welsh end, the only pre-1600 recipes -- in the formal sense --
that I've run across were published in:
Bowen, D. J. 1954. "Y Gwasanaeth Bwrdd" in Bulletin of the Board of
Celtic Studies. 15:116-120.
It includes two fairly brief extracts from 16th c. manuscripts that
are so similar in format, style, and content to contemporary recipes
in English sources that I would be astounded if they weren't direct
translations of some as yet unidentified (or more likely, lost)
English source. Here's an example
mortraws brawn y wnair val hyn/ cymer gapwld a chic pork a verwer yn
�a ai temprio a llaeth almons/ a thrwy y isgell y hvn dod ef wrth y
tan a dod yndo saffrwn a siwgr yna cymer laeth berwedic o�i ar y tan
a dod gyda melyn wie a chymysc hwynt yn �a y gid a gwsnaytha allan.
Mortrews of brawn are made so. One takes capon and pork
and boils it well and temper it with almond milk and with its own
sauce put it by the fire and put saffron thereto and sugar, then take
boiled milk over the fire and add egg yolks and mix them well
together and serve forth.
There is a commercial pamphlet entitled "Bwyd y Beirdd" also
published in English as "Food of the Bards" which combines excerpts
of medieval Welsh poetry that mention food or dining with medieval-
style recipes. No source is given for the recipes and the style has
clearly been somewhat modernized -- while the author of the pamphlet
seems to have been very knowledgeable about medieval cookery, there's
no evidence that the recipes are taken from medieval Welsh sources as
opposed to being drawn from the general western European culinary
tradition. (In other words, as a research source for period cookery
-- much less for period Welsh cookery -- it's in the same category as
books like Fabulous Feasts, although I'd rate it as better than that
This isn't to say that there isn't plenty of research material
available on the topic of what people in period Wales ate -- it just
takes more digging and interpolation than if you had a cookbook to hand.
On the Viking end, the earliest culinary text from Scandinavia that
I'm aware of is a 13th c. text -- but similarly to the 16th c. Welsh
recipes discussed above, this is simply a copy of a culinary
manuscript that was in broad circulation in Europe (in this case,
specific counterparts in other regions have been identified). So not
only is it later than the Viking era, there isn't anything
particularly regional in the contents.
When I was in Sweden I picked up a gorgeous little glossy cookbook
entitled "Vikingars Gastabud" which is someone's speculative
reconstruction of dishes that Viking-era people _might_ have eaten,
based on ingredients known to have been available and other
descriptions. (The book is illustrated using photos of re-enactors
using museum-quality replica cookware and dishes.) But as with the
Welsh "Food of the Bards", it's not a direct source and is relying on
someone else's speculations and interpretations, so its usefulness
for research purposes is small.
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