Sunday, August 10, 2008

Taste, The Raider Centuries

I'm enjoying this book Taste and wanted to share some more with you, now we are into the next era of Brit history in eating.

The Raider Centuries.

This is the time period when the Roman Empire was crumbling in Britain, by 347 A.D. raiders were already making incursions from across the North Sea, followed by Scottish Picts and Irish Gaels. Taking advantage of the Romans' withdrawal of troops back into their crumbling Empire.

At this time spoons were used of metal, bone, horn and mostly wood. The Old English word for wood is - spon, which means a splinter of wood.

It was at this time, outside the male dominated world of the hall, that many people were foraging for food, deprivation was there and much of the population was undernourished. The Old English word for 'to die' is steorfan. At this time it had not evolved into the word we use, 'starvation'.

Bread was the staple of the poor, the darker and coarser it was, the lower you were on the social scale. It was to them the staff of life. From the Old English we have such words blaford - the lord, literally the bread guardian or bread-winner, blafdige - the lady, was the bread-maker and dependants, blafaeta - the bread eaters.

In honour of Eastre, the goddess of spring which is where we get the word Easter, bread dough would be studded with dried fruits and baked into small loaves, as Christianity spread they added a cross to the bun and christianized what was a pagan custom and made them Hot Cross Buns.

In summertime they would soak bread in the juice of wild berries, this is the origen of Summer Pudding. I was going to give you a recipe for Summer Pudding, when on the very next day I saw that tiny happy had posted one so this is her Summer Pudding.

Anglo Saxon times was when much loved crumpets came into Brit cooking. Made from a thick yeast batter dolloped on to a hot, flat pan and cooked until the air bubbles rose, making holes at the top.
Haggis, made from chopped up organs, including, oatmeal and herbs, this term may have derived from the Viking word hagga, meaning to hack.

Introduced during this time were walnuts, which take their name from wealh, meaning 'foreign lands'.

In small houses it was the women who cooked, but in the great kitchens of noblemen, only men had the strength to lift the enormous equipment. The Old English word for 'cook', cok , is a masculine noun.

To know why we say, what we say, and why we eat, what we eat, gives depth to who we are.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taste, The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking, By Kate Colquhoun

This book is just fascinating with a wealth of information. It starts at with pre-Roman times , through the Roman occupation of Britain and continues right up to the present day. Describing the different foods eaten, and how they fit into the culture of the time.

Something that I find interesting is the derivation of words and phrases, so I thought I'd share some of these with you as I read through the years of British cooking history.

Roman Britain

This mosaic, from Chedworth Villa, illustrates how the British and Roman cultures integrated. The character is depicted as Winter wearing a typically British hooded cloak (birrus) and carrying a brown hare introduced to Britain by the Romans. The bare tree is a symbol of Winter.

Some believe that the routes of the imperial army through the south of England can be traced by following the white blossom of the wild cherry trees, distant descendants of the saplings that sprang up wherever the soldiers spat out stones as they marched.

Dinner or cena, taken at twilight, was abundant, often in the form of a convivium, or dinner party,that oiled the wheels of commerce, politics and friendship. The word convivial must originate from this word convivium.

Apicius wrote down many recipes. The first word of each of his culinary instructions gives us the noun that we use to this day, for recipe was the Latin word for 'take'.

Winter stores of food were crucial and salt preserved them. Salt was so valuable that it could form a part of a man's pay or taxes - his salary - so important that an inadequate man would be labelled 'not worth his salt'.

You will see this book in my Lil Bit Brit book store. Where you will find books that I've enjoyed and would recommend.
01 09 10