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fd-Ireland-msg – 3/25/13


Food of medieval Ireland. References. Recipes.


NOTE: See also the files: fd-Scotland-msg, Ireland-msg, haggis-msg, fd-Iceland-msg, fd-Wales-msg, cl-Ireland-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 10:30:40 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Irish period recipes??


Maddie Teller-Kook wrote:

> Unfortunately there are no 'period' irish recipes.  These were never

> written down. Event though there is documented evidence of food

> remenants found at archeological sites, this just isn't the same.  But,

> to be honest, I know when doing an Irish event, the food cooked ends up

> being more 'ethnic' than 'period'.  If only the monks had taken care to

> write down recipes instead of the book of kells..........(big grin)...


> meadhbh


Of course, if the Book of Kells had been a cookbook, we probably would

never have found it, since some Viking might have taken it home to his

wife, instead of merely hacking off the silver binding decorations and

throwing the rest into the bog.


As a matter of fact, I understand there is an account or fairly detailed

description of St. Colmkille's (a.k.a. Columba's) favorite food,

Brotchan Foltchep or Brotchan Roy, in the saint's autobiography, dated

597 C.E. The dish still exists today, and based on the description,

appears not to have changed significantly since that time, except for

the possible addition of meat stock to the milk that forms the main

ingredient of the soup's liquid portion.


As for other Irish foods of reasonably safe period accuracy, for all

that some speculation is involved, you might consider boiled bacon with

kale or cabbage, which is what was  eaten in Ireland before Americans

imported a variant on the New England Boiled Dinner (corned beef and

cabbage, with separately boiled potatoes, but sans the traditional

beets) to Ireland, sometime in the late-nineteenth / early-twentieth

century. Kale or cabbage boiled with salt pork, ham, or bacon is a

pretty standard porrey or joutes dish, found in period sources from both

France and England, and probably Germany as well. Le Menagier gives

several such recipes, while Taillevent doesn't bother, since, he says,

every houswife already knows how to make them. It was quite probably

eaten in Ireland in pre-history.





Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 21:38:10 +0000

From: "Robin Carroll-Mann" <harper at idt.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Irish period recipes??


And it came to pass on  5 Nov 97, that Tyrca at aol.com wrote:

> I would really love to know as well.  I want to know what they ate

> before corned beef and potatoes.  I want to feed it to my family, if

> possible.


AFAIK, there are no period Irish cookbooks.  It is possible to learn

something of what the early Irish ate.  Historical accounts, such as

lives of various saints, mention various foods. Saint Brigit was a

dairymaid, for example, and miraculously produced endless quantities

of butter on at least one occasion.  I believe that Gerald of Wales'

_History and Topography of Ireland_ discusses food a bit, but I can't

find my copy.


Looking through _The Illustrated Archaeology of Ireland_, I find the

following foods mentioned:


Mesolithic: Irish hare, wild pig, thrush, pigeon, eel, salmon, trout,



Neolithic: cattle, sheep/goats, pigs, wheat, barley, fish, deer,

wildfowl, nuts, berries, crab-apples


Bronxe Age: flax (oil)


Iron Age: Oats, rye


Unfortunately, the book has almost nothing to say about food in the

periods that are of greater interest to us.  I would assume that the

Vikings and later, the Normans, introduced some of their foodstuffs

to Ireland.


Lady Brighid ni Chiarain of Tethba

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom

mka Robin Carroll-Mann *** harper  at  idt.net



Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 16:10:03 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: SC - Reposting Brotchan Foltchep Recipe...


Mark Harris wrote:

> For us uneducated masses, what is Brotchan Foltchep? I think you've

> mentioned it before. A stew? Soup? Recipe please.


Here it is...I think we've seen this one before. Loosely adapted from

Malachai McCormick's "Irish Country Cooking" (the best Irish cookbook

I've seen), but apparently of much greater antiquity, having been

mentioned and described in the writings of St. Colmcille, c. 597 C.E.

There's no telling how the original differs from this, though. I am

assuming that Colmcille's dish was a bit more austere.


Brotchan Foltchep, a.k.a. Brotchan Roy


Serves 6


3 or 4 medium-size leeks, about 1 1/2 pounds

1/4 to 1/2 stick butter (1 - 2 ounces)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup raw, steel-cut porridge oats, like McAnns

Parsley (flat Italian, chopped) for garnishing

salt and white pepper to taste


Wash the leeks well. They are usually muddy and sandy. Remove any

visible dirt or grit. Trim off the root ends and discard. Starting at

the white, root ends, slice the leeks thinly. Place in a deep bowl of

cold water, and rub the leeks between your hands, gently, to separate

the rings and encourage the last of the grit to sink to the bottom. Lift

the leek slices off the surface till the bowl has nothing left in it but

water and mud. Drain the leeks in a strainer and set aside.


In a large, deep saucepan, bring the stock and milk to a simmer. Stir in

the oats, bring almost to a boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until

the oats are done.


While the oats are simmering, melt the butter in a deep saute pan, over

low heat. Sweat the leeks for five or ten minutes, until they begin to

soften. When the oats are about half done, add the leeks and their

butter to the pan of soup. The leeks and the oatmeal should be done at

the same time.


Take the pot off the heat, stir in the cream, and season with salt and

white pepper to taste. Garnish with the parsley.





Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 19:14:46 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Reposting Brotchan Foltchep Recipe...


James and/or Nancy Gilly wrote:

> >Brotchan Foltchep, a.k.a. Brotchan Roy

> >

> >Serves 6


<blah blah blah>


> So at what point do you add the whiskey?  Along with the cream?  Directly

> into the serving dish?  At the table?


Just a few minutes before serving. You want it to have a fresh flavor,

but don't want enormous clouds of volatile alcohol fumes. At least, I

don't think you do... .


Last year, I served haggis at an event, and came out of the kitchen, and

spoke to the folks in the hall, describing how the haggis is now

traditionally escorted into the dining hall by pipers (a kazoo band),

flaming (a couple of lit sparklers inserted at strategic points) with a

fine malt whisky (Laphroaig, this time, of which I poured myself a

single shot, raised my glass in salute to the crowd, and went back into

the kitchen, clutching the bottle).





Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 23:00:27 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - "Paul's Epistle to the East Irish."


> do we have any sources for period cookery in Ireland?)

> Alasdair mac Iain


AFAIK, I am aware of several literary references to what foods were

eaten, a 6th-century C.E. description of a typical daily pottage eaten

by St. Colmcille, and a 16th-century poem about the sustaining virtue of

the herring. That's all I know about. No recipes per se, although the

pottage description is reasonably detailed enough to work with, I'd say.


And no help from other Goidelic Celtic cultures: I don't think there are

any period recipes from them either. One interesting little snippet I

read recently is that the folk of the Isle of Man are major exporters,

and also consumers, of octopus. I've heard the Irish will occasionally

throw a squid or two into the fish fry, but never anything like this.


It's tempting to assume some of the better-known Irish and Scots

traditional foods are variations on period ancestors, but there's little

or no real evidence of this, except perhaps in the case of haggis.


Adamantius, who has a theory about colcannon...



Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 00:06:52 +1100 (EST)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn at sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>

Subject: Re: SC - Irish cuisine (fwd)


This is what I got from a friend who does Irish Viking stuff in the

950-1200 period (mostly)


Charles ragnar

- ---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 23:14:21 +1100

From: Andrea Willett <willetta at mail.austasia.net>

To: Charles McCathie - Neville <charlesn at sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>

Subject: Re: SC - Irish cuisine (fwd)


Hello Charles!


> These folk would really appreciate a reply - I thought i recalled you

> providing a couple of pointers on living-history. (If there aren't any,

> sorry to waste the time)


> Subject: SC - Irish cuisine


> No, unfortunatley there does not seem to be any existing manuscripts.

> perhaps one will show up. There is some anecdotal evidence, however. If

> anyone has newer information, please, please share it.



To the best of my knowledge this is correct. The post I made in response to

John Brattan's query about Viking recipes on Living History Net was based

on plant and animal remains from the digs in Dublin and from what I know of

Viking cooking utensils. You can post it to SCA cooks in my name if you

think they will find it useful. For what it's worth here it is.


Subject: Recipes from Viking-Age Ireland?


There is hardly any (practically none) WRITTEN evidence for Viking food

that I know

of. The oldest cookbook that I have seen is "An early 13th century

northern-European cookbook" by Rudolph Grewe in Proceedings - Current

Research in Culinary History: Sources, Topics and Methods, 1985. A lot of

the recipes in this book rely on almond milk however and this is most

likely to have come into common usage in northern kitchens from the

middle-east during or after the Crusades.


Analysis of soil samples from Viking/Norman Dublin (which is my main

geographical area of interest) indicate that of the meat that was eaten 90%

was from mature cattle (beef not veal), 7% from young pigs and the

remaining 3% from sheep or goats. Horse was also occasionally eaten as were

dogs, cats, deer, seals and whales. They have identified the remains of

crushed hens eggs so they must have had chooks. Of the fish bones they have

identified cod and ling. "In the general urban debris shells of cockle and

mussel were common, with oyster and scallop more scarcely represented.

Limpet and periwinkle were very rare, but this perhaps reflects the fact

that there was no rocky coast nearby."


Grains and pulses identified include oats, barley, rye, wheat and peas.

Fruits and nuts: hazelnuts, hawthorn, fig, strawberry, walnut, apple, sour

cherry, plum, sloe, rosehip, blackberry, raspberry, elder, rowan,

frochan/bilberry and grape. Other edible plants include wild celery,

Brassica sp. (turnip, cabbage, etc.), rape (now renamed canola for

political correctness), black mustard, wild carrot, fennel, radish and



To the poultry and game one could reasonably add rabbit, hare, turtle,

goose, duck (wild if possible), partridge and quail. Grouse would be lovely

but it doesn't exist in Australia, I tried to locate some for the Scottish

lunch at the Conference. Avoid pheasant (It originated in Asia and I don't

know how early it came west), turkey (American) and Guinea fowl (African).

Fish and shellfish I don't know well enough to advise about additions to

the original list with the possible exceptions of trout (preferably brown

trout), salmon and herring.


Regarding grains and pulses: Do not use white bread or flour for your

meals. Sifting the flour would have been too much effort for anyone but the

household of a king or major chiefton. You can come up with quite tasty

wholemeal pastry recipes if you try. I came up with a very yummy recipe for

"Haw Tarts" which used a thin pastry of wholemeal flour with the addition

of ground and chopped hazelnuts to hold a thick strained syrup of hawthorn

berries and honey. The name got a good laugh too. Pity hawthorn berries

aren't commercially available, I'd like to use it at the Conference. Keep a

look out in peoples paddocks for some of the rare fruits and greens like

haws, elderberries, rosehips (from wild not garden roses) and stinging

nettle tops as they make interesting additions to meals and help distance

you from "B-B-Q chook and roast lamb syndrome". The fig and grape mentioned

above are imports and were found in a 13th century layer so they are

probably not suitable for your group. "Conspiuous absentees" from among the

Dublin finds were said to be coriander, and hops. Oh, and only use dried

peas never fresh.


The above list is not exhaustive for Dublin or any other Viking site. Soil

samples actually tested were only a very small proportion of what was

excavated and what was available in the area where your club is set could

be very different from what I can prove for mine. Are you in the

Scandinavian homelands? Have you emigrated west? East? Are you raiding

along the Italian coast looking to sack Rome? Local ingredients available

would be different in each case and certain non-local foods may have been

available in much more limited quantities as imports. As a general rule of

thumb, the bulkier an import and/or the farther it has to travel the rarer

and more expensive it would have been and therefore the more frugal you

should be in its use.


On cooking methods what can one say? Roast meat on a spit or bake it in an

oven? I don't know if that was quite as common a cooking method as people

seem to think except among the upper classes. Meat in a stew can be made to

stretch a lot farther that roast. What social class do you portray? Bread

might have been baked on a bakestone beside the fire or in a dedicated

baker's oven, I don't know. Boiled meat we can prove. There was mention of

oxen being boiled in one of the sagas and boiled pickled pork or silverside

is VERY yummy. Stews would certainly be very common. Roll the meat in flour

and brown it and the vegetables in a frypan before you stew them. I don't

know if this is period (there is not enough evidence to tell one way or the

other) but it will improve the flavor of your stew immeasurably, so will

leaving the bones in (in a muslin bag if you wish to remove them at the

last minute). If you wish to thicken it use bread or egg. Pies? I don't

know. A self-supporting pie along the lines of a Melton Mowbray pork pie is

feasible but there is no evidence of anything resembling a pie dish. There

have been several of those "frying-pan" things found so obviously they

fried things. Whether they were used for meat, omelets or griddle cakes I

don't know. Pickled, dried and salted meats and fish would also have been

common, don't miss out on the ham and soused fish.


Apart from that all I can add is that you take ingredients and utensils you

know/think you know that they had and work forward.  You take the recipes

and ingredients that are synonomous with their cuisine today and subtract

modern and late period ingredients and work backwards. Somewhere in the

middle you reach your own interpretation of what you think they might have

eaten. As I said earlier, there are no extant "Viking" recipies. As long as

you USE what information is available no-one really has any right to say

that your version is any more valid than theirs. We all do the best we can.

Just keep in mind that it is an interpretation based on what you know at

the time. If someone comes up with additional EVIDENCE be prepared to

change your mind. It's so very easy to get set in our ways once we've made

a decision on something.


Andrea Willett

willetta at mail.austasia.net



Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 15:58:08 -0800

From: david friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Irish cuisine (fwd)


Charles ragnar forwarded a post from Andrea Willett on Irish/Viking food.


>... On cooking methods what can one say? Roast meat on a spit or bake it in


>oven? I don't know if that was quite as common a cooking method as people

>seem to think except among the upper classes. Meat in a stew can be made to

>stretch a lot farther that roast. What social class do you portray? Bread

>might have been baked on a bakestone beside the fire or in a dedicated

>baker's oven, I don't know. Boiled meat we can prove...


C. Anne Wilson (_Food and Drink in Britain_, 1974, ISBN-06-497747-I)

describes an experiment in potboiler/pit roasting cooking by archaeologists

at a site in Ireland; the site is well BC, but similar sites through the

British Isles "range in date from perhaps 2000 BC down to the Viking

period, and some Irish examples may be as late as the sixteenth century

AD." They found a trough sunk into a boggy part of the peat (so the water

wouldn't drain away) lined with timber and stones with an arc-shaped hearth

at each end, pot-boiler stones, and "a second pit, stone lined and thought

to have been employed as an oven".  They used the hearths to heat stones,

used a dampened wooden shovel to dump them in the water, brought the water

to a boil, and simmered a 10-lb leg of mutton for 3 hours 40 minutes by

adding stones every few minutes.  The oven they preheated with burning

brushwood, removed it, and "another ten-pound leg of mutton was placed

inside and surrounded by a rough dome of red-hot stones...the covering of

stones was changed seven times in the course of three hours and forty

minutes". They then ate the results: "excellently cooked and most tasty."

Wilson gives her source as M. J. O'Kelly, "Excavations and experiments in

early Irish cooking-places", J. R. Soc. Antiq. Ireland (1954), 84, pp.

105-55. Wilson's book is a wonderful source for this sort of stuff.


Elizabeth of Dendermonde/Betty Cook



Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 10:22:21 -0400

From: "Gedney, Jeff" <Gedney.J at phd.com>

Subject: RE: SC - Mediveal Irish Cookbooks


> I have a friend who is cooking a late period Irish feast. I was wondering if

> there were any period irish cookbooks available.

> Illadore de Bedegraine


If it is white or disgusting, or from salt water the Irish eat it   >:0




I am afraid that, as an Irish persona, I find that much Irish food I

have found are things like "Steamed Willicks (periwinkles - very big

snails) in Carrageen moss (a seaweed)", eel pies, Blood sausage, and as

many ways to serve small bony white fish as possible.

I strongly dislike seafood, as a general rule.

I have a nice Irish cookbook, based on recipes from late Victorian

Ireland, that has some nice cakes and breads, but I have yet to find any

period sources. (I guess I stopped looking after I found the disgusting



Perhaps it is time for me to do a little more looking.  If you find any

sources, send them to me, too. Please?





Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 23:10:33 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Are creations period?


Karen Evans wrote:

> I have studied the archeological reports of the remains of foodstuffs

> found in pre-Norman Ireland, but there is very little in the way of

> cookbooks from that period to tell me what I want to know.  Are you

> implying that I change my persona to match the existent cook books?

> Lady Tyrca Ivarsdottir


To add to the body of archaeological knowledge of the foodways of

Pre-Norman Ireland, there are pieces of period monastic poetry, for

example, speaking of various foods, which gives us a somewhat better

idea of what early medieval Irish people actually ate, as opposed to

what they may have grown for animal fodder, or simply had access to, but

didn't actually eat. There's a great 15th-century poem (yes, it's late

for you but still useful) in praise of the herring; it's quite similar

in tone to the food passages in Piers Plowman, but more amusing.


There are also food references in Norse sagas and eddas that might help

as well. As for the body of archaeological knowledge, have you tried

making meals of the foods that we more or less know were eaten, based on

midden analyses, for example? People have done practical studies of how,

for example, pit-boiling with hot rocks was probably done. Apart from

proving that the methods are workable, the cooks also learned a bit

about the potential value of trace amounts of wood ash as a seasoning,

along the lines of some of the cookery of some of the Native North



There are also probably some foods that have survived more or less

unchanged to this day. Some "traditional" Celtic foods are actually

fairly modern, but then some aren't. Part of the fun is in finding out

which ones are probably very ancient throwbacks.


Obviously it's easier to work with recipes when you can find those that

correspond to the time and place you are trying to recreate, but this

was your choice, and comparatively few SCAdians have made the choice as

you have. You accepted the comparative lack of culinary information as

part of the package when you chose your persona, which is fine.


I don't think the statements about using the available information over

manufacturing recipes were aimed at anyone in your specific case. There

simply are few or no recipes available from your period, and you will

have to improvise if you want to try to recreate the foods of late Dark

Age Ireland. But there's improvisation and then there's improvisation,

and the first thing you should do is learn absolutely everything you

can, short of finding recipes themselves, since there are none,

virtually, that I've found. That includes the lists of contents of trash

middens, literary references, and what archaeologists have been able to

learn about the cooking methids most likely employed.


One of the problems that some people (myself included) have been seeing

with the arguments in favor of creating "period-ish" recipes is that

they frequently are a convenient alternative to doing any actual

research. That might not be true of everyone who made such arguments,

but I think it's true of enough of a percentage to be a little



I have a similar problem with my own particular period, BTW. There are

no known fifth or sixth century Romano-British cookery books. I can use

some recipes in Apicius, along with some very similar  archaeological

information to what you have seen in Ireland, and make a reasonable

attempt. It's just that I have no interest in proving to anyone other

than myself that such-and-such a food I may create is universally

period. I simply say it's my best guess at how roast lamb would have

been eaten at such-and-such a time and place. Most everybody else just

say "Yum."





Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 00:27:41 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - early Irish -- recipes???


Gerekr at aol.com wrote:

> Thursday night we're going to Cooking Night and hoping to assist the

> autocrat of this fall's Amergin's Revenge (Celtic bardic) event with menu

> development -- for 7thC Irish!!

> I understand that they have the salmon purchased, and probably smoked by

> now.  Gerek and I are collecting oatcake recipes that are at least pure

> in ingredients, 8-)...


I tried to find this on disk, but it proved easier to locate it on our

Provincial web pages:


3) North English Oatcakes

      Havercakes or riddlecakes differ from the sgian oatcake of the

      Highland Scots in that they are made from a soft dough or batter,

      rather than the firm pastry dough of the sgian. Such batters probably

      derive from attempts to preserve grain-pastes or porridges by cooking

      and drying, and the resulting cakes are probably older than the sgian.

      All these cakes are, in fact, prehistoric. Archaeologists have found

      oatcakes in Iron Age peat bog deposits, and havercakes are mentioned

      in Langland's Piers Plowman[6]. The problem is that the earliest

      written recipe I've been able to find falls just outside of period, in

      the family receipt book of Gulielma (Mrs. William) Penn. She spent her

      entire life in Northern England and died in 1694. Some of the receipts

      were recorded by her mother and grandmother, and it isn't really clear             

      who is the author of which receipt. The recipe may date from as early

      as the 1640's or so. In addition, such cakes were obviously made,

      evidently substantially unchanged, from the Iron Age up until the

      Second World War.


      "(#73) Too make thin oat Cakes It must bee made with oaten meale

      steped all night in pump water, and bake it the next morning pore in

      the batter upon a stove with a brass Ladell"[4]

      I used about two cups of steel-cut porridge oats, ground a bit finer into

      medium-fine grits. Modern riddlecake recipes call for pinhead oats,

      which are a bit smaller than porridge oats, but definitely not flour,

      either. To this I added about a quart of water to achieve a pourable

      batter, bearing in mind the batter would thicken as water was

      absorbed. Fairly hard tap water doubled pretty well for pump water.

      While it's possible the mineral content of the water would affect the

      final product, I thought the addition of Burton water salts from my

      brewing supplies would be going a bit too far.


      I let the batter prove overnight. Whether this was intended to provide

      natural leavening with airborne yeasts I can't say, since no details are

      provided about covering the bowl. I covered it with a plate and left it

      unrefrigerated. I believe the object of the overnight steep is to save

      time and fuel (Cook while you sleep!). Certainly no noticeable leavening

      or souring occurred.


      Modern home recipes for riddlecakes call for portions of batter to be

      baked on a griddle on or near the fire, on one side only. When the

      cakes begin to peel away from the griddle, they are removed and hung

      on a rack before the fire to fully dry and crisp. In the North of England

      they were frequently hung on a clothesline near the hearth. In their

      soggy, flexible form, they're pretty hideous.


      I opted for a toasting directly on the rack of a 250° F. oven, which took

      about half an hour to achieve a palatable product. It ended up being a

      bit like matzoh, a bit like Wasa Krispbread, and a bit like a commercial



As I recall HG Cariadoc has documentation (a first-hand historical

description, not a recipe) for medieval Scots oatcakes; the historian

speaks of the habit of Scots soldiers having a bakestone among the gear

hanging from their saddles, and a bag of meal from which to make oatcake

batter by adding the right amount of water. It seems quite possible that

if a seventeenth-century English recipe is nearly identical to a

medieval Scots one, it might well be reasonably close to a Dark Ages

Irish recipe (not that there were any "Dark Ages" in Ireland, to speak



> "Somebody" in this house is convinced that Irish soda bread would/could

> be period for 7thC, others are not so sure...  Bear's Irish buttermilk

> bread posted on this list has baking soda and cream of tartar -- I do

> recall there being discussions about baking soda being period; and cream

> of tartar can be scraped off wine barrels...


The cream of tartar would be pretty much unnecessary in any case; soda

bread seems to have originally been made with sour milk, which provides

plenty of acid. Cooking soda (sodium carbonate, a.k.a. washing soda) is

known to be period (it appears in several Roman recipes, anyway), but

I'm not aware of its being used as a leavening. I understand, though,

that until the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was common

enough for bread to be baked in Ireland and Scotland with no leavening

at all, probably from softer wheats than we're used to. The idea was

that one had to have "light fingers" i.e. the ability to completely mix

the dough into a cohesive mass without any gluten-developing kneading,

and without eliminating the air pockets. Maybe this wouldn't be very

comparable to Wonder Bread (not that there's anything wrong with that!),

but as food one could do worse. I sincerely doubt soda bread existed

before the nineteenth century.


> Ann Hagen's Anglo-Saxon food barely mentions Ireland; Thora Sharptooth's

> list of Viking foodstuffs mentions what was found in Viking Dublin, but

> we haven't actually seen that source ourselves yet.


If it's a matter of not knowing where to look for it, it's at:



Thora herself, BTW, is a lovely and helpful person. You might consider

contacting her directly...





Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 13:34:04 EDT

From: Gerekr at aol.com

Subject: Re:  RE: SC - early Irish -- doc.


From: meadhbh at io.com (maddie teller-kook)

>There are no extant recipes from that time period. The only information on

>food stuffs is what archeologists have found in the bogs and other digs.

>Most of the recipes are just put together based on those finds.  As for

>Irish soda bread... it isn't period (baking soda wasn't available at that


>I've done irish feasts (can't help it considering my personal). I just make

>sure people understand that the recipes are not documeneted but the feast is

>being done to fit with the event theme (if that is the case). You can only

>do the best you can. Good luck and let me know how it turns out!



Ah, I have after all found Thora's compilation, the Dublin entries

include the following foodstuffs:


pork, beef, mutton/lamb, hare

chicken, wild goose

cod, ling, cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops

wheat, oats, barley, rye, Chenopodium album, Polygonum spp.

fava (Vicia faba L.), peas, wild celery, wild carrot (Daucus carota),

cabbage, turnips, radishes

cherries, sloes, blackberries, hawthorn, apples, rose hips, elderberries,

rowanberries, strawberries, Vaccinium myrtillus


poppyseeds, black mustard, fennel

rapeseed oil (Brassica campestris)


there are two items in her bibliography that specify Dublin, in short:


GF Mitchell / Archaeology & Enviroment in Early Dublin


Viking and Medieval Dublin, catalogue of exhibition


Chimene & Gerek



Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 12:14:51 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy at silk.net>

Subject: SC - Early Medieval Irish Bread and Porridges


Considering the discussions which have gone on about bread on the list in

the recent past, I thought some people might be interested in a

serendipitous find I made while checking the carts of new books at the

college where I teach.


Regina Sexton, "Porridges, Gruels and Breads: The Cereal Foodstuffs of Early


SOCIETY, ed. Michael A. Monk and John Sheehan ( Cork: Cork University press,

1998), pp. 76-86.


The article is based on information from the literature and legal documents

from the early material of Ireland, and the author is able to reconstruct a

surprising amount about these foods, including what was eaten with them as

condiments. While there is no specific recipe given, there is enough detail

available to indicate the ingredients, shaping and handling, cooking

techniques, etc., so that I should think a modern experimenter could make a

pretty close approximation of the beard eaten by the early Irish. The

section headings give a good picture of the contents:


Porridges and gruels


Ingredients of bread

Baking utensils and methods of preparation

Monastic and penitential bread

The condiments and relishes associated with bread


Notes and bibliography


Yours culinarily,

Francesco Sirene



Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 14:59:01 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Early Medieval Irish Bread and Porridges


>Regina Sexton, "Porridges, Gruels and Breads: The Cereal Foodstuffs of Early


>SOCIETY, ed. Michael A. Monk and John Sheehan ( Cork: Cork University press,

>1998), pp. 76-86.

>Francesco Sirene


International Specialized Book Services Inc, 5804 N.E. Hassalo St.,

Portland, OR 97213-3644, is the North American distributor for Cork

University Press.  They have Early Medieval Munster by Monk and Sheehan in

stock for $20 plus $4.50 for shipping and handling.  US toll free number is

1-800-944-6190. US phone number is 001-503-287-3093.  Fax number is



They are webbed at:






Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 17:17:03 EDT

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: SC - Fwd: [TY] Irish poem - 12th century


   Interesting poem, not to mention useful for documenting various

foodstuffs to a place we've little knowledge of! ;-)

                   Ldy Diana


Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 16:02:51 -0400

From: Bryan S McDaniel <kestrel at hawk.org>

Subject: [TY] Irish poem - 12th century

To: <TY at reashelm.ce.utk.edu>


Kestrel's House of Peotry and Song brings you another poem.


This one found in The Portable Medieval Reader.Pages 497 - 499, 25th printing November 1969.copyright 1949 by The Viking Press, Inc.

Edited, and with an introduction, by James Bruce Ross and

Mary Martin McLaughlin


The Vision of Viands --- author: Aniar MacConglinne                               --- Irish, 12th century


In a slumber visional,

Wonders apparitional

   Sudden shone on me:

Was it not a miracle?

Built of lard, a coracle

   Swam a sweet milk sea.

Whith high hearts heroical,

We stepped in it, stoical,

   Braving billow-bounds;

Then we rode so dashingly,

smote the sea so splashingly,

That the surge sent, washingly,

   Honey up for grounds.

Ramparts rose of custard all

Where a castle muster'd all

   Forces o'er the lake;

Butter was the bridge of it,

Wheaten meal the ridge of it,

   Bacon every stake.

Strong it stood, and pleasantly

There I entered presently

   Hying to the hosts;

Dry beef was the door of it,

Bare bread was the floor of it,

   Whey-curds were the posts.

Old cheese-columns happily,

Pork that pillared sappily,

   Raised their heads aloof;

While curd-rafters mellowly

Crossing cream-beams yellowly,

   Held aloft the roof.

Wine in well rose sparklingly,

Beer was rolling darklingly,

   Bragget brimmed the pond.

Lard was oozing heavily,

Merry malt moved wavily,

   Through the floor beyond.

Lake of broth lay spicily,

Fat froze o'er it icily,

   'Tween the wall and shore;

Butter rose in hedges high,

cloaking all it's edges high

   White lard blossomed o'er.

Apple alleys bowering,

Pink-topped orchards flowering,

   Fenced off hill and wind;

Leek-tree forests loftily,

Carrots branching tuftily,

   Guarded it behind.

Ruddy warders rosily

Welcomed us right cosily

   To the fire and rest;

Seven coils of sausages,

Twined in twisting passages,

   Round each brawny breast.

Their chief I discover him,

Suet mantle over him,

   By his lady bland;

Where the cauldron boiled away,

The Dispenser toiled away,

   With his fork in hand.

Good King Cathal, royally,

Surely will enjoy a lay,

   Fair and fine as silk;

From his heart his woe I call,

When I sing, heroical,

How we rode, so stoical,

   O'er the Sea of Milk.-


------trans. G. Sigerson, in Bards of the Gael and Gal??

(London Unwin, 1897)-


Dilestair fid dy hynt, ac ni rusia ddim rhagot."May your path be unhindered and may nothing hinder you."


Bryan S. McDaniel      SCA aka Kestrel of Wales



Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 19:00:30 GMT

From: "Bonne of Traquair" <oftraquair at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Any help for the Irish?


>Your ideas and research look good, but I have a question about:

> > Dulce Stew (leeks, mushrooms, butter, milk, cream, salt, pepper)

>     Is there no dulse in this recipe?  Dulse is a sea vegetable, and many

>Irish recipes call for seaweeds in various forms for their ingredients.

>So, the name makes me think it might have at one time contained it,

>perhaps to be later replaced with leeks, or even might have contained

>leeks and dulse, and the dulse has been omitted.


I've seen dulse in the gourmet food stores--with japanese cuisine

ingredients. Don't know if the dried product is the same.


What thread did this mutate out of?  I need Irish food help as well, and

there is such a backlog of unread posts I may never find the original.





Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 20:39:05 EDT

From: ChannonM at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #2094


<< Irish recipes, like Frumenty and

Compost.  Are there differences in the Irish version? >>


The compost recipe was adapted to Ireland by using mead and cider vinegar

instead of wine and wine vinegar. As for the Frumenty, I used wheat berries

and barley, no milk but butter and flavoured it with onions and homemade

vegetable broth. After some recent posts about substituting oil and water, I

might reconsider using that in the future.  





Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 07:08:46 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: "Thanksgiving" festivals in Period


Catherine Deville wrote:

> It occurs to me that now would be an appropriate time to share some of the

> different fall harvest festivals from different cultures and times that

> we've come across in our research which occured during the SCA period

> (roughly 600-1600.)   What do we know about the festivals themselves, when

> they were held, what they entailed and of course, what foods might have

> 'traditionally" been served at such a feast.  While I recognize that the

> focus of the SCA is Europe, I'd, personally, also be interested in hearing

> non-Europe traditions from those who would like to share them.  (I'd also

> like to hear about holidays which preceed SCA period, such as the Roman

> festival of Pomona, which I'm currently researching.)


Two Irish dishes associated with Lughnasa (the festival of Lugh, Tuatha

de Danaan and de facto sun god) round about August first are mutton pies

(probably round like the sun), and colcannon, whose name means "white of

the leek", but now made with potatoes and cabbage mashed in with the

leeks. There are variants eaten by other Celtic groups, and variants

also depending on where in Ireland you are (sometimes using kale instead

of cabbage, or scallions or onions instead of leeks, etc.), but

apparently it is customary to speak a toast with the first bite of

colcannon: translated into English it goes, "Death to the Red Hag!" The

Red Hag being the Spirit of Hunger that struck Ireland in the mid-19th

century, but also a personification of the difficulties suffered in an

agrarian society in the month _before_ harvest: the old Gaelic name for

the month of July translates as "the month of the shaking out of the

bags". In other words, the Red Hag comes to visit when you're down to

the very last of last year's stored food, but the harvest isn't quite in



I have no information on the age of colcannon, but a standard

Dublin-area variant is known as champ, which is associated with a

utensil called a beetle (a common colloquial expression in the area for

mulling something over, or deep consideration, is to "beetle [your]

champ") and a beetle is a utensil that appears to have been brought to

Ireland by the Vikings.


This is, of course, big-time speculation, but I suppose it's possible

some pre-Columbian version of these dishes might have existed in the

days before the introduction of the tater.





Date: Sun, 07 Mar 2004 00:44:40 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Period Seaweed Recipes?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Dulse in Ireland, according to Alan Davidson, was eaten

from ancient times onward and is recorded in the 7th century

Irish laws Corpus Iuris Hibernici. It was again something that was

eaten during the famine years.

(Actual Irish, Welsh, and Scots

recipes (also Cornwall) are all going to be much later, since we just

don't have

the early published works from those regions. Traditional recipes

for those countries using seaweed aren't that hard to find.)

Carrageen is another variety that is cooked with and that one

I have worked with. I made a molded cream one time that was

set up with 'Irish moss'. It worked alright, but the taste wasn't all

that good. I think people expected a very sweet pudding and it wasn't.


Johnnae  llyn Lewis



> snipped---

> That's because they're two separate dishes. McCormick gives a recipe

> for Brotchan Foltchep (a.k.a. Brotchan Roy), saying this was

> apparently eaten by Colmcille, and he also mentions, sort of

> peripherally, that he ate a lot of dulse. I haven't been able to find

> any specific references to either food in documents even remotely

> contemporary to Colmcille (his bio by Adamnan is quite a bit later

> than Comcille himself). It may have been a tradition on Iona, I don't

> know.

> Adamantius (trying to remember the sauce he used for the lamb

> medallions wrapped in laver and steamed -- probably a caper butter

> emulsion...)



Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 12:30:20 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Irish was "Tastes of Anglo-Saxon England"

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Cera Chonaill wrote:

> snipped--

> I'm researching 12/13th century Irish cooking and have to get references to

> food types and uses from references that are not cookbooks (they just don't

> seem to exist). It will help to understand why these interpretation from

> references such as the medical usage are considered not to be as

> accurate as others might be.

> Cera


For Irish---I recommend Brid Mahon's book---

Land of Milk & Honey: The Story of Traditional Irish Food & Drink


Hardcover  /  September 1998  / 1856352102

Check out her footnotes.

Also check out the notes to--- Cathal Cowan and Regina Sexton's

Ireland's Traditional Foods. An Exploration of Irish Local & Typical

Foods & Drinks.

1997.  1-901138-04-6


I also like the Feast and Famine Food and Nutrition in Ireland

1500-1920 by


Leslie Clarkson, Professor Emeritus of Social History, The Queen's

University of Belfast,, and Margaret Crawford, Senior Research Fellow,

The Queen's University of Belfast

Oxford University Press.

Price: £40.00 (Hardback)


Publication date: 15 November 2001

336 pages, numerous graphs and tables, 234mm x 156mm


The authors explore the evolution of Irish diets over the centuries, in

the process putting the role of the potato and the history of the

famines into their proper perspectives.


Irish Books and Media is one source for these.


After reading the books---then you can start through all the Irish folklore,

folk history, anthropology, archaeology, ethnology etc. papers that are

out there. And there are hundreds of those.


Johnnae llyn Lewis



Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 10:13:35 +0200

From: Volker Bach <carlton_bach at yahoo.de>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 10th c Irish Feast

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Am Mittwoch, 29. Juni 2005 05:35 schrieb ranvaig at columbus.rr.com:

> It is the time when I start making plans for the 10th Century Irish

> feast we do each August.

> Someone had commented that Cormarye was possibly an early recipe and

> it sounded interesting. Nothing in it that is out of place in 1005.

> Then I found this comment in the Florilegium: "Conspicuous absentees"

> from among the Dublin finds were said to be coriander, and hops.  Is

> coriander is appropriate for 10th Century Ireland?


There is no reason it could not have been grown. Coriander is found in the

archeological evidence for northern Europe from Roman times on and is

mentioned explicitly in the 9th St Gall monastery plan as something to be

grown in the herb garden. Ireland in the 10th century was not an isolated

spot in the wilderness, so it is reasonable to assume they would have known

of it. That said, it is conjectural.


> One of our members is allergic to wine (and grapes and wine vinegar).

> Could I substitute beer or mead?


Ireland isn't exactly wine country to begin with. I'm no expert, but when we

did Irish history, an extensive wine trade was not mentioned prior to the

English settlement (anyone?). So why not? Just don't expect any results to be

even remotely similar to what you'd get with wine. German cuisine does a lot

of beer cooking (figures) and the flavours are sometimes very off if you're

not used to it.


> http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MEATS/pork-msg.html

> Cormarye. Take colyaundre, caraway smale grounded, powdour of peper and

> garlec ygrounde, in rede wyne; medle alle thise togyder and salt it. Take

> loynes of pork rawe and fle of the skyn, and pryk it wel with a knyf, and

> lay it in the sawse. Roost whan thou wilt, & kepe that that fallith therfro

> in the rostyng and seeth it in a possynet with faire broth, & serve it

> forth with the roost anoon.


Bigger question: how big was roasting in 10th century Ireland? In my Irish

history class we were taught that all references in law were to boiling meat,

boiling implements, and kettles used for feasts. Had that changed, or is this

simply a traditional bias on the part of the law that archeoloigy does not

bear out?





Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 08:51:50 -0700

From: "Vladimir Armbruster" <vladimir_armbruster at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 10th c Irish Feast

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I'm no authority, but check into the history of Kinsale in Cork.


I don't know how far back their trade in wine goes, but it may give  

you some information.


In Service to Crown and Society,

Vladimir Armbruster

Headmaster of the House of Willow and Thorn


Barony of Aquaterra



Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 13:59:18 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


The best books now on Irish foods are Brid Mahon's Land of Milk and Honey and

Cowan and  Sexton's Ireland's Traditional Foods which came out in 1997

as part of the Euroterroirs project to identify regional foods.

The latter book says that the traditional ingredients are beef, salt,

and saltpetre. Modern additions include sodium ascorbate.


History wise, the dish goes back to the 11th century where it is

mentioned in the Aislinge meic Conglinne. Mahon also relates this,

calling the work The Vision of Mac Conglinne.

There is a spiced beef which is a corned beef with additional spices dates back to at least the 14th century. [Cowan and Sexton say that spices

were imported to Ireland in greater quanities following the Anglo-Norman

invasions of the 12th century.] This is something traditionally made at

home and served at Christmas. http://www.irelandforvisitors.com/recipes/blbeef.htm


Corned Beef was a major product in the 18th and later centuries where any beef not consumed fresh was salted down for later consumption. Cork for several centuries was a source of corned beef and ships bound for the Americas and Europe carried the product from Ireland. Cork also produced the corned beef that fed the British Armies during the Napoleonic Wars.


Among the best recipes for home corning that I have found are those

found in Grace Firth's Stillroom Cookery.


Johnnae llyn Lewis


Helen Schultz wrote:


> I've been having a discussion with my father (a self-proclaimed  

> authority on almost anything <grin>) about the types of spices the  

> common Irish folk might have had.  This was sparked by a neighbor  

> taking him to dinner for St. Patrick's Day and he felt the corned  

> beef & cabbage wasn't fixed correctly <sigh>.

> I did find him a fairly good recipe for it on Martha Stewart.com,  

> but he has come back to me with the idea that the common Irish folk  

> who invented this dish (?? did they, I don't know that, myself)  

> just didn't have the spices necessary for making corned beef.  I  

> told him I could show him 14th century recipes in England that used  

> most of these spices, but he countered that the common folk  

> wouldn't have had them.

> Anyway, what I need is some help finding out the real story behind  

> not only the way corned beef came about, but also some info on the  

> spices normally used to make corned beef.  Martha Stewart corned  

> her beef with water, pickling salt, dry mustard, pickling spices,  

> garlic, and ground pepper.  Now, pickling salt would be just good  

> old sea salt, I'm sure.  Mustard is no problem, neither is  

> garlic... but what about pickling spices?  I don't pickle, so I  

> don't know what they are a mixture of.  Pepper might have been a  

> slight problem for a common Irishman, but was it totally un-used by  

> them??

> Any help would be welcome.

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

> Meisterin Katarina Helene von Schönborn, OL

> Shire of Narrental (Peru, Indiana)  http://narrental.home.comcast.net

> Middle Kingdom



Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 14:57:02 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

      <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: gedney1 at iconn.net, Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


On Mar 24, 2006, at 2:08 PM, Jeff Gedney wrote:


>> 3.  Beef in the time period wouldn't have been fed corn ('corn',

>> pre-maize, being generic grain), but would have been grass-fed.

> Just a heads up to friend Tom...

> "Corning" has nothing whatsoever to do with what

> an animal is fed.

> It is a form of curing.

> It is similar to Pickling.

> It refers to the coarse salts and spices used as a

> packing to coat and cure the beef.

> Today most corning is actually done commercially by

> brining and not corning.


It's been alleged by various sources that "corning" is a reference

either to A) coarse salt resembling "corns" of gunpowder, or possibly

B) actually containing some of that gunpowder (for its saltpeter

content). Spices are sort of incidental, it appears.


I've never encountered a period or near-period reference to corned

beef, myself: salt beef, yes, and later, powdered beef.


> Also, beef would not have been common food.

> IIRC most beef was reserved as walking wealth for the

> English nobility, not the Irish peasantry (though Irish

> cattle, by all accounts needed a lot of boiling to eat).

> The ancestor food to corned beef was probably boiling

> a joint of salted pork or bacon with cabbage and potatoes.

> (Think "raw" ham and you probably got it.)

> In America beef was cheaper, especially in the 1800's

> for the Irish following the railroads west.

> So cheap corned beef was substituted for the bacon.

> Eventually Irish repatriots and nouveau riche brought

> the beef concept back to Ireland.


Malachai McCormick says that during his childhood in Ireland, most

Irishmen thought corned beef on St. Patrick's Day was pretty funny --

why eat an English dish on the feast day of the patron saint of

Ireland? _Ham or bacon_ and cabbage, OTOH, is another matter

entirely. Flavor-wise, one of those bullet-shaped, cured, boneless

pork shoulders, the ones which actually used to be made with real

pork tenderloin, once upon a time, is probably one of the better

substitutes for the harder-to-find Irish boiling bacon, which

generally comes from the loin, like "Canadian" bacon, only not so

severely trimmed of the rib meat and fat...


I like coriander seed, mustard seed, and plenty of bay leaf in my

corning mix, myself.


Adamantius (thinking for some reason of Dublin coddle)



Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 22:41:19 -0500

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: TomRVincent at yahoo.com, Cooks within the SCA

      <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


>   1.  They didn't have any spices.


ermmm... I would kinda doubt that, even if you define spices as 'stuff

that comes from a long way away. There's no reason to assume that people

never had access to, say, peppercorn from time to time.


Without going and looking at C. Ann Wilson, I'm not sure what seed

herb/spices were grown in Ireland. But I'm willing to bet on mustard

seed, since mustard grows practically like a weed. Coriander, Caraway,

Anise, cumin, dill, fennel, all are among the herb seeds I would suspect

as possibly in use as spices in medieval Ireland.


>   5.  If they had any 'herbs', they would not be considered anything

> other than another vegetable.


See above


Pickled brawn and pickled cabbage appear to have been things served to

servants in Britain. Of course, whether the brawn was beef or pig might

have differed from place to place.


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at fiedlerfamily.net



Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 23:10:14 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: <TomRVincent at yahoo.com>, "Cooks within the SCA"

      <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> I doubt if there is any period documentation about what 14th c. common

> Irish (or otherwise) folk ate or what spices they had, but I'll commit to

> the following generalizations:

> 1.  They didn't have any spices.


This is open to question.  There are a number of herbs and spices available

locally which were fairly commonly used.  Mustard being a favored condiment.

Ireland did have trade with the Mediterranean, so spices could have been

available. As for the grinding poverty of the common people in Ireland,

that was largely a product of the wars with England from Elizabeth to

Cromwell and is keeping with a general inflationary period in Europe that

reduced the fortunes of almost everyone.


> 2.  They didn't have any beef, corned or otherwise.


I would recommend to you the Tain Bo Cualgne (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) to

demonstrate otherwise.  Wealth was cattle, until the English stole

everything that wasn't nailed down.  There are still a fair number of cattle

even today, as butter smuggling into Northern Ireland used to be a major

source of revenue.


> 3.  Beef in the time period wouldn't have been fed corn ('corn',

> pre-maize, being generic grain), but would have been grass-fed.


Corning refers to the process of preserving meat with granulated salt or

brine. In the particular case of corned beef, as we know it, it is the use

grains (corns) of saltpetre for the preservation, which appears to be a

practice that came into being with the increased use of gunpowder.  The

exact correlation is unknown and may be coincidental.


> 4.  The recipes you're looking at were from the nobility.


I've encountered one description of corning beef in the field which while

described by an educated individual was performed by definitely non-noble



> 5.  If they had any 'herbs', they would not be considered anything  

> other than another vegetable.


It would depend on whether the herbs were used as food or seasoning.


> So, they may have 'enjoyed' a bit of cabbage, probably in the form  

> of a soup. :)

> That's about as close to 'corned beef and cabbage' a 14th c. Irish  

> person would have likely seen.

> Duriel van Hansard

> Caer Adamant, East Kingdom


A version of corned beef and cabbage would more likely have graced the table

of the average Gael in the 14th Century than three centuries later.





Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 23:15:11 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> You have to look at the cultural perspective.  These folks were raised on

> stories like the Tain Bo Cuailnge, where cattle = wealth.  Also take into

> account that seafood is often associated with Fast Days, and therefore fish

> = deprivation, no matter how lovely and fresh it is.

> At least the Irish hospitality industry is beginning to get the clue to

> emphasize the real strengths of local cuisine in order to attract tourism

> and other business contacts to their area.  But that is NOW, and we  

> are studying THEN.

> Selene C.


At the time of the Tain, salmon was considered fine fare.


I suspect fish may not have equaled deprivation until Rome assimilated the

Celtic Church in the mid-7th Century.





Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2006 00:37:17 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

      <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


On Mar 25, 2006, at 12:15 AM, Terry Decker wrote:

> I suspect fish may not have equaled deprivation until Rome

> assimilated the Celtic Church in the mid-7th Century.


And perhaps not even then:







Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 18:50:21 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sources was Spices and the Irish Common folk

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Tom Vincent wrote:

> I doubt if there is any period documentation about what 14th c.  

> common Irish (or otherwise) folk ate or what spices they had, but  

> I'll commit to the following generalizations: snipped


Actually there has been quite a bit of research done

on the foods and foodways of  Ireland through the centuries.

There are literally hundreds of papers on the subject.

Besides the books I mentioned in my original post on this

subject, I would suggest that you purchase and read or

interlibrary loan and read Feast and Famine. A History

of Food and Nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920 by Clarkson and Crawford.

It was printed by Oxford University Press in 2001.



This is not just a work of the upper classes. It examines the lower classes.

It also discusses what they ate prior to 1500. There are hundreds of footnotes

included to sources that can be explored on this topic as well.


Another work that you ought to read is Nature in Ireland. The chapter in that

work that applies to the assertions that you made is by Terence Reeves-Smith.

It's titled "The Natural History of the Demesnes." Again there are footnotes to read and explore. By the way the author mentions that over 100 herbs and

vegetables are mentioned in a late 14th century work. It wasn't all cabbages.


It is certainly possible to read about what the Irish actually ate as opposed to just wildly throwing "generalizations" about.


Johnnae llyn Lewis

JK Holloway, MSLIS



Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2006 09:06:51 EST

From: Stanza693 at wmconnect.com

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Fun (OOP) Irish Cookbook

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Cc: Stewpot at yahoogroups.com


This is out of period, but the interesting thing about it is that the author,

who runs the Ballymaloe Cookery School, includes lots of historical tidbits.

For example, she has a timeline of Irish food chronology and a short article

on ancient cooking pits found around Ireland.  I got it because I like

"ethnic" foods, and this book also has info on making puff pastry at  

home. (I found a Middle Eastern cookbook at the same sale.)


Allen, Darina.  The Complete Book of Irish Country Cooking: Traditional and

Wholesome Recipes from Ireland.  ISBN:  0-670-86514-1.  New York:  

Penguin Studio, 1995.


A sus ordenes,

Constanza Marina de Huelva



Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 10:33:15 -0500

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 12th Night 2007 Stories

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Jan 7, 2007, at 9:13 AM, ranvaig at columbus.rr.com wrote:


>> On Jan 7, 2007, at 7:12 AM, Celia des Archier wrote:

>>> any possibility of getting a recipe for the littiu?

> I have the recipe webbed here:

> http://www.geocities.com/ranvaig/medieval/kitchen.html


>> why use this obviously Celtic name? Is it just an

>> Irish word for oats? Why is it not just oatmeal or porridge, or

>> flummery, or what distinguishes it from them?


It is the Early Irish word for porridge and this

was for the Irish Living History group, therefore

the Irish name.






porridge, Middle Irish lit?, Early Irish littiu,

g. litten, Welsh llith, mash: *litti?n- (Stokes),

*pl at .t-ti?, from pelt, polt, Greek  at Gp?ltos,

porridge, Latin puls, pultis, pottage.



Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 10:05:28 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] 12th Night 2007 Stories

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


"Littiu" is the Early Irish form of "lit" and essentially means porridge.

It is related to the Welsh, "llith" which means mash.  It is perfectly

reasonable that an Early Irish persona would use the term for whatever

recipe of porridge they chose to make.


While there are a number of literary references, the one I remember most

commonly mentioned is from the Tain Bo Chulainn to the effect that it is the

porridge of the little boy that has made such a great warrior of the man.

The Irish lived on their cattle and the common grains in Ireland were oats

and barley, so oat and milk porridge would likely be common in Ancient

Ireland. As oats are the highest in protein of any of the cereals, a

porridge of oats and milk would be a very nutritional dish suitable for the

sons of kings.


I would suspect that the recipe is a derivation from various sources and

that the accuracy depends on the quality of the research.




> This is interesting. Oats have been eaten in semi-solidified form for

> thousands of years, and I gather from looking at the stuff saved in

> the Florilegium that this is just oats and milk, cooked as a thick

> porridge and allowed to cool somewhat, so I'm not questioning this as

> a dish, per se. But if our knowledge of what this is/consists of is

> sorta sketchy, why use this obviously Celtic name? Is it just an

> Irish word for oats? Why is it not just oatmeal or porridge, or

> flummery, or what distinguishes it from them? Is it that the name has

> emerged from Irish poetry and people have felt the need to come up

> with a functional "recipe" to match it, and this is what it is?

> Just trying to understand the reasoning process...

> Adamantius



Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2007 13:03:44 -0800

From: Susan Fox <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Porridge for the sons of kings (was RE: 12th

      Night 2007 Stories)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> I remember reading somewhere, I'm sure it was either a tertiary source or a

> fictional account (I'm thinking it was most likely a historical novel)

> rather than somewhere reliable, a short bit on the proper preparation of

> porridge based on the rank of the son being fed; i.e., using cream for the

> sons of kings, milk for nobles, water for anyone beneath a certain rank. I'm

> wondering now if that was something that the author actually found in

> research, as this sounds similar.  Has anyone ever come across this in a

> primary source?  Is this perhaps what is meant when the Brehon Laws  

> were being referenced?

> Anyone know?

> Celia


It's in Brehon Law, my ex has the line and verse, I'll try to get the

specifics from him.  In English, to spare us all a lot of confusion.





Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 13:17:17 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Littiu was 12th Night 2007 Stories

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


The Littiu as described on the website


"The dish is described in books of monastic rules, and is prescribed in

the Brehon law as the appropriate food with which noble hostages and

foster sons are nourished by right."


Are we sure that this is correct?

The reason I ask is that Brid Mahon's Land of Milk and Honey

repeats this passage (I think it is the same one)



?The children of inferior grades are to be fed on porridge or stirabout

made of oatmeal on buttermilk or water taken with stale butter and are

to be given a bare sufficiency; the sons of chieftains are to be fed to

satiety on porridge made of barley meal upon new milk, taken with fresh

butter, while the sons of kings and princes are to be fed on porridge

made of wheaten meal, upon new milk, taken with honey.? page 64


The source is given as Ancient Laws of Ireland, volume 2 pp 148-151.


So wouldn't oats have been served to the lower class fosterings while

the sons of the upper classes would have eaten either barley or wheat?





Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 14:09:19 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Littiu was 12th Night 2007 Stories

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On Jan 8, 2007, at 1:17 PM, Johnna Holloway wrote:


> The Littiu as described on the website

> http://www.geocities.com/ranvaig/medieval/kitchen.htmlas

> "The dish is described in books of monastic rules, and is prescribed in

> the Brehon law as the appropriate food with which noble hostages and

> foster sons are nourished by right."

> Are we sure that this is correct?

> The reason I ask is that Brid Mahon's Land of Milk and Honey

> repeats this passage (I think it is the same one) as

> ?The children of inferior grades are to be fed on porridge or stirabout

> made of oatmeal on buttermilk or water taken with stale butter and are

> to be given a bare sufficiency; the sons of chieftains are to be fed to

> satiety on porridge made of barley meal upon new milk, taken with fresh

> butter, while the sons of kings and princes are to be fed on porridge

> made of wheaten meal, upon new milk, taken with honey.? page 64

> The source is given as Ancient Laws of Ireland, volume 2 pp 148-151.

> So wouldn't oats have been served to the lower class fosterings while

> the sons of the upper classes would have eaten either barley or wheat?

> Johnnae


Well, I was asking out of curiosity, more or less, for the reasoning

process, and not having any particular expectations in mind one way

or the other.


What I was able to dig up was this passage from P.W. Joyce's "A

Social History Of Ancient Ireland" (excuse the scanner/OCR fu):


"6. Corn and its preparations.


It will be seen in chapter xxiii., sect. 2 (pp. 271, 272, below),

that all the various kinds of grain cultivated at the present day

were in use in ancient Ireland. Corn was ground and sifted into

coarse and fine, i.e. into meal and flour, which were commonly kept

in chests. The staple food of the great mass of the people was

porridge, or as it is now called in Ireland, stirabout, made of meal

(Irish min), generally oatmeal. It was eaten with honey, butter, or

milk, as an annlann or condiment. So well was it under stood, even in

foreign countries, that stirabout was almost the universal food in

Ireland?a sort of characteristic of the country and its

people?that St. Jerome takes occasion to refer to the custom in a

letter directed against an Irish adversary, generally believed to be

the celebrated heresi arch Celestius, the disciple of Pelagius.

Jerome could use tongue and pen in hearty abuse like any ordinary

poor sinner: and he speaks revilingly of Celestius, who was a

corpulent man, as 'a great fool of a fellow swelled out with Irish



The common word for stirabout was, and still is, littiu, modern

leite, gen. leitenn [letth?, letthen] ; but in the Brehon Laws and

elsewhere it is often called gruss. Gruel was called menadacli: it is

mentioned as part of the fasting fare of the Culdees. The Senchus M?r

annotator, laying down the regulations for the food of children in

fosterage, mentions three kinds of leite or stirabout : ? of

oatmeal, wheatmeal, and barleymeal: that made from oatmeal being the

most general. Wheatmeal stirabout was con sidered the best: that of

barleymeal was inferior to the others. For the rich classes,

stirabout was often made on new milk: if sheep's milk, so much the

better, as this was looked upon as a delicacy. Finn?leite,

'white?stirabout,' i.e. made on new milk, is designated by an

epicure, in an exaggerated strain ? 'the treasure that is smoothest

and sweetest of all food' : it was eaten with honey, fresh butter, or

new milk. For the poorer classes stirabout was made on water or

buttermilk, and eaten with sour milk or salt butter: but butter of

any kind was more or less of a luxury. All young persons in fosterage

were to be fed, up to a certain age, on stirabout, the quality and

condi ment (as distinguished above) being regulated according to the

rank of the parents."





Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2009 10:32:32 -0700

From: "Kathleen A Roberts" <karobert at unm.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Early Irish food

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


"Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net> wrote:

> Brotchan Foltchep rules with an iron hand...


i made some at a seige cooking contest at grand outlandish

one year.   the aroma dragged people off the path to my

camp. had to use the wooden spoon to keep the li'l

beggars at a distance. 8)


good stuff.  not exactly pretty, but gooo-ooo-ooo-ood.





Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 10:58:59 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] An Irish Source


Here's something that could be browsed or searched

for information on food and supplies in 14th century Ireland.


Account roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, Dublin, 1337-1346,  

with the middle English moral play "The pride of life" from the  

original in the Christ church collection in the public record office,  



Dublin, Royal society of antiquaries of Ireland, 1891.


It's up on Google Books.





Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 09:53:59 -0700

From: edoard at medievalcookery.com

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] An Irish Source


From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

<<< Here's something that could be browsed or searched

for information on food and supplies in 14th century Ireland.


Account roll of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, Dublin, 1337-1346,  

with the middle English moral play "The pride of life" from the  

original in the Christ church collection in the public record office,  



Dublin, Royal society of antiquaries of Ireland, 1891.


It's up on Google Books. >>>


Here's the link:  http://books.google.com/books?id=bKNbAAAAMAAJ


- Doc



Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2011 01:04:35 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Mary Cannon's Commonplace Book.


I came across this title recently and ordered it.

Mary Cannon's Commonplace Book. An Irish Kitchen in the 1700s.




It arrived today. It purports to be a privately kept Commonplace Book  

from Ireland.

It contains 120 recipes collected between 1700 and 1707. In terms of  

recipe collections from Ireland, that makes it pretty early.


If you are interested in Irish cookery and want an early 18th century  

text, you may want to seek out a copy.





Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 08:33:49 -0700

From: "Kathleen Roberts" <karobert at unm.edu>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>,    "V O"

      <voztemp at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] old recipes - experimenting with really old



speaking of old recipes and playing with your food.... i made a savory stirabout this weekend as an experiment for Known World Cooks and Bards.  If I am talking about Early Irish Food, I wanted to have more of a base in something so simple and all present.  


I thought it was quite successful.  Husband did not run screaming from the house after tasting it.


Looking at Brehon law and monastic records from early Ireland (really early), I got the ingredients from things eaten in my period of interest (800 - 900 AD) and combined them as appropriate.  No cooking directions, and I had the choice of just dumping everything into a heavy pot, or breaking up the process a bit.


Of course, this is the fancy stirabout for high days and holy days monastically and upper nobility as per Brehon law.  Something more 'gruelish' could easily have been made with just water, oats and salt, but then the resident guinea pig would indeed have gone running out of the house and into the night. ;)


2 C chicken broth

3/4 C oatmeal

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

big pinch of dried thyme

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 T butter

1 scant T cream


Melt butter and fry onions until golden.  Add 1.5 cups of the chicken stock, salt, thyme and oatmeal.  Cook until thick and soupy, constantly stirring (there's a reason it is called stirabout).  Add remaining chicken stock to get the consistancy you wish.  Check for salt, add pepper to taste.  Add cream just before serving.


I was totally surprised at how good it was.  Had a meaty texture.  I think beef broth would have been too murky, Pork might be interesting, or vegetable broth. I used rolled oats, but want to experiment with McCanns Steel Cut oats, which will definitely affect the texture and fresh thyme which would definitely affect the taste.


So now I have a savory as well as a sweet stirabout.  YEA!





Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 00:55:17 -0500

From: Sharon Palmer <ranvaig at columbus.rr.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] old recipes - experimenting with really old



<<< speaking of old recipes and playing with your

food.... i made a savory stirabout this weekend

as an experiment for Known World Cooks and

Bards. If I am talking about Early Irish Food,

I wanted to have more of a base in something so

simple and all present. >>>


This is recipe passed on to me, speculatively

derived from Brehon law.  Unlike your stirabout,

it is not stirred once the oats are mixed in, and

it cooks as a solid pudding that you cut into

wedges. He suggests cream and honey, but berries

are wonderful too.


Oat Pudding (Litti?) (Tigernach)

2 c coarsely ground oats (run lightly through a

food processor),

2 c milk, 1/2 tsp salt or to


egg yolks (optional),



Heat milk to the simmering point without boiling,

so that small bubbles form around the rim of the

pot. Add oats and salt. If you wish to make it

even richer, you can add the egg yolks, well

beaten, to the mixture. Pour the mixture into

greased bowl or fireproof dish, and set it,

covered, by the fire for about 45 minutes,

turning it regularly so that it cooks evenly and

solidly. Or bake at 300?. As it cooks, it will

pull away from the bowl a bit. It can be cut in

wedges in the bowl, or turned out onto a plate,

accompanied by rich cream and drizzled honey. The

dish is described in books of monastic rules, and

is prescribed in the Brehon law as the

appropriate food with which noble hostages and

foster sons are nourished by right.





Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 08:17:18 -0700

From: "Kathleen Roberts" <karobert at unm.edu>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] old recipes - experimenting with really old



Sharon Palmer ranvaig at columbus.rr.com> 1/25/2012 10:55 PM >> (

mailto:ranvaig at columbus.rr.com )

<<< Oat Pudding (Litti?) (Tigernach)

2 c coarsely ground oats (run lightly through a

food processor), 2 c milk, 1/2 tsp salt or to

taste, egg yolks (optional), butter

Heat milk to the simmering point without boiling,

so that small bubbles form around the rim of the

pot. Add oats and salt. >>>


yes, i found this recipe when i first got interested in period

cooking... i believe i was reading an SCA-ish menu of a feast of Brian



I use this recipe (or rather adaption, no eggs) quite often and the

al-Barran folks quite like it.   I don't bake it, I let it cool in a

bowl and turn it out like a bombe, and serve it with honey and cream to

drizzle.   May not be perfectly period, but its good with dried fruit

compote simmered in honey and wine. ;)


Let's just say most locals don't put oatmeal in a siege cooking basket

if they know I am playing.  I have done desserts, pancakes, soups, sides

and even casseroles with it.





Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 20:27:43 -0800 (PST)

From: Dan Schneider <schneiderdan at ymail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Looking for help


I'd start with Fergus Kelly's "Early Irish Farming", which uses (primarily) the Brehon law texts as a source of information on early medieval Irish farms, with a heavy emphasis on their production. It doesn't have recipes, but as a study of E.M. Irish foodstuffs, it's about the most comprehensive I know of, discussing species and appearance of livestock, crops, dairy products (cows were the basis of the early Irish economy, and the range of dairy products they made was *truly* astounding), and if I recall correctly, a bit on types of cooking tools and how they were used.





Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 01:04:01 -0400 (EDT)

From: JIMCHEVAL at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Irish food


And for the medieval side....


Right off, St. Pat himself was a Briton, so there's a whole other path to  

follow there. Otherwise...


We know something about what Irish monks ate - they founded several  

monasteries in Gaul, along with rules defining meals. One modern French writer  

sums the latter up as "vegetables with a little peas and beans, flour mixed

with water, a small slice of bread." All fairly common fare for monks in Gaul.


The same author adds this delightful note: "The use of certain fermented  

drinks was not absolutely forbidden."





(http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/abpo_0003-391x_1932_num_40_4_1709?_Prescripts_Search_tabs1=standard) &


I know of no contemporary accounts of the early Irish, but I would guess  

they were much like the early Scots (both essentially lived in the

wilderness). Froissart says that the latter when hunting would drink river water and

cook animals in their own skins (a technique it seems used in several parts

of the  world). The only food they carried with them was oatmeal and a hot

stone. Having  eaten their "half-cooked" meat, they would then mix some

oatmeal with water and  cook the resulting thin paste on a stone (the bannock in

its most primitive  form).








A later writer says they were still eating freshly killed game raw, but not

if (like some Germans in Tacitus' time) they first pounded the meat to

remove all the blood (and not incidentally tenderize it).


The Irish certainly ate beef - one of their famous tales is of a cattle  

raid. In one classic epic, both cattle (and their milk) and roast pigs are  

mentioned. Though it is sometimes questioned as classical bias, a commonplace

of descriptions of all the early forest-dwelling groups (Germans, Gauls,

Irish, etc) was that they lived largely on meat and dairy.


One nineteenth writer suggested that some Irish heated stones by a stream  

and then boiled the water in a trough by throwing them thus boiling the  









The same writer describes food found at the site of an Irish lake  dwelling:


"The food on which the lake dweller existed appears to have been plenteous:

fishing implements are found in abundance ; he slew cattle?wild as well as

domesticated?pigs and deer; and, in one refuse-heap, traces of megaceros

were discovered. Immense quantities of carbonized vegetable remains were

found on a  crannog site in Meath. The barley was of the same small size as is found in Swiss lacustrine sites; grains of oats not larger than hayseed,

hazel- and  oak-nuts, sloes, and walnut shells were found at Lough Nahinch, and cherry-stones  at Ballinlough."








Otherwise, several modern works look at the Irish medieval diet. This book  

has a whole chapter on food:

The Archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland By  Nancy Edwards








The details are towards the end.


Two Celtic encyclopedias have pages on the same subject:












As you might expect, grain and dairy played a large part; some at least ate

beef and pork. But if you want something truly unique to the isle, you

might try  some cockles with dulse, a seaweed still eaten in Scotland at least.


There is also this 11th century Middle Irish poem, painting an image of  

what was apparently considered plenty:


"The door of dried meat,

The threshold of dry bread,

The walls of  soft cheese,

Smooth pillars of old cheese,

And juicy bacon joists

Are laid across each other

White posts of real curds,

Supported the  house.

A well of wine just behind,

Rivers of beer and bragget."


Certainly then beef was eaten - though probably not corned -, though  pork

may indeed have been more available to the Irish in later centuries. And,  

of course, no potatoes....


Still modern revelers seeking medieval authenticity can take heart in one  

respect: "The use of certain fermented drinks was not absolutely  



Jim Chevallier




Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 17:51:05 +0000

From: Kathleen Roberts <karobert at unm.edu>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Irish food


ah, it is nice to see someone else knows "The Vision of Mac Conglinne" (sp... don't have my paperwork here).

it gives a wonderful idea of the foods available, although it is again open to translation and rewriting.


speaking of cattle.... they had a purpose in the winter that made them better than meat. the cattle could be carefully bled, and the blood used in puddings, thus giving a food that could 'keep on giving'.  not to mention the importance of milk for cheese, one of the very important staples of monastery and farm.


interesting monastic point... some monks at certain holidays could not eat cheese because the rennet came from the stomach of an animal.  interesting point, considering how 'liberal interpretation' of food could actually get you meat on the table on fast days. ;)


i have chased period irish food for years, and finally found a fair amount of documentation on what people ate and how it was cooked from tales, monastic records and laws.  quite interesting stuff.


if you are interested in a really unique dish, try making a stirabout with oats (steel cut is good), broth, butter and onions (onions cooked before inclusion).   cook until done, and all a bit of fresh herb and cream.  really, really good.   quite impressed a number of people who sampled it at an Early Irish Food class i gave in the barony.


I still want to do a perfect period Irish feast one day... better hurry, ain't getting any younger. LOL!




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