Posts Tagged ‘Food & Drink’

On 16 August 2014,  a new peer-reviewed article was published by the Journal of Archaeological Science detailing the information gathered by multi-isotope analysis of the remains of Richard III. This type of research reveals the diet and geographical movements of the analysed person. The results were also part of the new documentary, which was screened in the UK on 17 August, but as I have not been able to watch the programme, and all I have is hearsay, I won’t comment on it. Fortunately the research article is available without geographically restrictions.

The research shows that he was born and spent his early childhood in Northamptonshire. We know that he was born in Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire. He then moved to a more westerly area and we know that he spent time in Ludlow in the Welsh Marches. Later he returned to eastern England, where he spent the majority of his later life. In short, the scientific evidence supports and confirms what had been pieced together from historical records about Richard’s geographical movements.

Much more interesting was what the analysis revealed about Richard’s diet. It confirmed an aristocratic lifestyle with a diet high in meat and fish (some of which were from the sea). However, at the age of approx. five it shows that for a while his diet concentrated more on grains, which as the dates show coincides with the time he spent at Ludlow.

During the last years of his life, ie. when he was king, his diet became even more privileged with a higher proportion of terrestrial foods (freshwater fish and wild fowl). These, like game, were very expensive and only available to the very rich.

The analysis also shows that the composition what he drank changed during his later years, more wine than beer. We have to remember that wine and beer were much more commonly drunk during that period than today. Obviously coffee and the commercially manufactured cool drinks of today were not yet available to people living then and the state of their drinking water made other alternatives a healthier option.

The scientists conclude that it is likely that these changes reflect the records we have of Richard’s lavish coronation feast (but they tell us for the first time what Richard actually ate) and that it is likely that he was wined and dined during his royal progress.

It seems that Richard would have enjoyed the wines and beers which have been named after him, and presumably would not have said No to a slice of “his” cheese either.

More on the research can be found in the article from the Journal of Archaeological Science and on Mike Pitts’ blog, which concentrates on the evidence, unlike some more sensationalist interpretations in the media.

Tags: , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Should you be in Leicester this coming weekend, possibly for the entertainment on 14 April 2013, you might feel the need for some refreshment.  A brewery in Old Dalby, approx. 25 km northeast of Leicester, has introduced a new beer to commemorate the dig for Richard III’s skeleton, which might just hit the spot.

Belvoir Brewery creates a special beer every month and their creation for March/April is called ‘Skull-dug-gery’.  It is described as “a golden amber light, crisp and fruity beer” with a strength of 4%.  The beer had its premiere on 19 March, but was made for the Leicester Beer Festival.  20-23 March, it will be available until the end of April.  One of the co-owners of Belvoir Brewery said: “The beer is our light-hearted way of remembering King Richard III.”  Well, if you have enough of it, you will certainly get light-hearted.

It seems you will now have to go to the brewery to be able to drink it, they do have a restaurant though.  I would have thought it might be the perfect accompaniment to the Wild Boar & Chorizo Burger at O’Neills in Leicester (which I can only recommend) to stay with the Ricardian theme.


More info:  ‘New beer inspired by the discovery of king’s skeleton‘, Melton Times (10 April 2013)

Tags: , ,


The Medieval Cookbook

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

The Medieval Cookbook

Book Review:  The Medieval Cookbook

Maggie Black, The Medieval Cookbook:  50 authentic recipes translated and adapted for the modern cook.  British Museum Press.  ISBN 978 0 7141 2829 0 (PB)

(Available from the Book Depository)

The title says it all. The authentic recipes are given at the top of the page, but let’s give thanks to the late Maggie Black who has converted them to modern English for easy reading and adapted them for up-to date means of preparation and cooking.

So there is no need to “first catch your hare”, as suggested by the redoubtable Mrs Beeton, before tackling “Civey of Hare”. In fact you may prefer to catch a couple of rabbits at the butcher instead if, like me, you have coped with a hare proudly brought back by ardent game shooters in the family. There is so much meat on a full grown hare – and delicious it is too – but using all of it is a challenge. Forget the struggle with variations on turkey and ham leftovers after Christmas;the hare wins paws down.

Hare is also an ingredient of the “Grete Pye” which was a essential at Christmas time. Many other meats were involved, as well as spices and dried fruits. The version here would be fabulous for a large family gathering in cooler months, and the ideas for soups are delicious.

Need a dessert? “Fig and raisin ‘crème’” is truly scrumptious thanks to the addition of wine and spices and can be used hot or cold. Add ice-cream as a bonus.

Afterwards though, you might like to refer to the latter pages with their herbal remedies and cures. This is the advice from a Leechbook, or Collection of Medieval Recipes of the Fifteenth Century, for cleaning your teeth:

To cleanse and make them white. Take the root of mallows and rub thy teeth and thy gums therewith. And after that take a rough cloth, and rub thy teeth therewith. If thou washest thy mouth once a month with water or with wine that titemall, that is spurge, is seethed in, the teeth shall never fall. Knotgrass kneaded and laid to the teeth is a good medicine.

You don’t find this kind of advice in every cookbook, so relish the help and happiness this one offers. The illustrations of life in medieval times showing the enjoyment of great cooking are delightful.

Tags: ,