I think you guys know by now that I love me some historical fiction, and as it's a genre that I often write as well as read I've found myself learning a little about various foods people often ate back in 'the good ol' days'. So today I thought I'd share with you a couple of recipes for some historical foods and concoctions - just know that this stuff isn't necessarily yummy...
Sweet Frumenty is a simple dish that's centuries old, and eventually became a festival dish served at Twelfth Night. It was a wintery dish, but a sign that spring would soon come!
* 140g (5oz) cracked wheat
* 1 pint ale (you can use stock if you prefer)
* 1 large or 2 small eggs
* 1-2 handfuls of currants
* Half a teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
* 3-4 tablespoons of single cream
* A jug of water or stock
* Optional: a generous pinch of saffron
1) Soak the wheat in the ale until it begins to swell, this takes a few hours. (Or boil for 15 minutes and then leave to stand for 15 minutes) Most of the liquid will be absorbed. Add more liquid if the frumenty begins to dry out when cooking.
2) Add the spices, then boil for a few minutes until the wheat is soft.
3) Remove the heat.
4) Add the currants and allow to cool a little.
5) Stir in the beaten egg(s) and the cream.
6) Cook on a low heat, do not allow it to boil.
Back in the day plague was a big worry. In the 14th century The Black Death killed 60% of Europe's population, and in 1665-1666 100,000 people were killed by The Great Plague. Oddly enough it was another disaster - The Great Fire of London - that helped rid England of the disease. Many people tried to concoct cures for the plague, turning to Mother Nature for their medicines; this is one of them.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT pick and cook plants unless you or someone you are with can detect a poisonous plant from a safe one. Many safe plants have poisonous lookalikes!
* Feverfew, for fever and headaches
* Scabious, for scabs and itching
* Mugwort, for protection from plague
* Dog Rose, to purge the body and protect the lungs
* Mallow, for aches and pains
* Yarrow, for driving away sickness and evil
* Sage, for joint pains
* Grape Juice (can be substituted for ale, wine, or the urine of the victim - yummy!)
1) Take a few of the leaves of each plant.
2) Crush the leaves together with a pestle and mortar until the juices start to be released.
3) Place in a container, pour over the grape juice/ale/wine/urine and stir.
4) Strain the mixture through a suitable weave cloth.
5) Give to the plague victim to drink.