I thought a fun way to start my 2017 would be to create some sort of post on a Medieval and/or Renaissance topic each Monday. I managed to create a few new habits for myself in 2016, and this is an auspicious one for me, but I hope to accomplish it in 2017.
So my first step was to create some order, so I’m not posting on the same topic each week. I’ve got a handful of blogs I half-wrote, or just need to add pictures to and haven’t, or intended to write, but never did; this will be the theme for the 1st Monday: Looking Back. 2nd Mondays I want to devote to topics related to food, drink, and service, while 3rd Mondays will be for music and/or performance-related topics, and likely copied over from my other blog (but still new posts).
So… onto our first post! This is an unfinished post where I went through my thought process on assembling food for a dear friends vigil:
This was the food prepared for Master Asa in Svarta’s vigil for the Laurel, held in Iron Bog in June 2015. I’ve known Asa for quite some time, and knew what came together had to seem to be a bountiful Viking luncheon, so to anachronistically speak. This was my first time organizing food for a vigil, and conveniently, there were active discussions going on among some very reputable Viking & Norse personas online about feasting and food in that era.
June is a bountiful month, and so fresh fruits and vegetables were at the top of the list. So was smoked fish (which was purchased)
Next: Pickling! I didn’t know how much I loved pickling things until I started work on this vigil. Pickled carrots, pickled rhubarb, pickled peas-in-their-pods, and pickled champignons (mushrooms) were served and well received. Why pickled veggies? Well, it was going to be a hot day, outside in June, so as fun as Skyr would’ve been, it wouldn’t have lasted as long as the carrots did.
My apprentice brother John Marshal took up the responsibility for making “Birka Bread” based bread found in the remains at Birka, and it went over very well, he was frying it up fresh most of the day!
John and my Laurel’s other student, Eirkr, came over one day to help make the sausage, based on an extant recipe, being equal parts beef, pork, and bacon, with thyme and leeks [need citation & book link, great book].
While a Viking and/or Norse entirely-themed array of food would have been one way to go, I decided to add some personal touches from myself, and from Asa’s friends to the offerings for the day.
The first addition were Pumpes (pork meatballs, with currants, mace, and a bit of sugar, boiled in broth and served with a spiced sauce made with thickened almond milk). Second, was a Marchpane. This was my first marchpane publicly displayed, as well as my first attempt at gilding. It was an interesting adventure, and it was a lot of fun when we each took a moment to eat a piece at the end of the long, hot day.
Livia Petralia contributed her amazing roman dates (stuffed with nuts, covered in honey and pepper and baked in the oven, absolutely delicious), and she also made food specifically for Asa, and made sure Asa was fed & watered throughout the day, which was a huge help, for which I’m grateful.
My Laurel, Mistress Annetje made the mushroom & cheese pies, which are always a hit!
When it’s hot, you need to not only think about foods that will help restore electrolytes (like the pickled vegetables), but also beverage service. (Now) Master Alesone contributed Cherries Preserved in Syrup, which alongside my white-balsamic, mint sekanjabin, were available for guests to add to their water.
There wasn’t much time, so the salami and cheeses were bought, additional store-bought artisan bread was added, as well as crackers, since not everything was hand-eating-friendly.
The wooden shelves were crafted by Reijnier Verplank, and really helped bring the display to greater heights 😉 Really, levels make your food look better, always. It allowed me to get a wide variety of items into a relatively small space. Adding a big bunch of sage, and bits of rosemary served not only the purpose of filling gaps on the table, but also created a richer aromatic experience for the guest; if you’v ever walked into a medieval-style garden, you’ll understand how important aroma was to a garden, and I try to take that same methodology over to my dayboards and vigil food displays.
Many of the pottery items here were borrowed from Mistress Annetje and Mistress Brunissende.
A lot of people came together to make this happen, and for that I know I am thankful, as was Asa. Making food for your friends, and their friends is always a blast.