bunn (bunn) wrote,

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I like to think of Anglo Saxon cuisine...

Just been watching Time Team. They were looking for a hunting lodge in South Wales, built by Harold in 1065. They didn't find it - they rarely find anything pre-Conquest - but there was much bemoaning of the lack of any pottery between the Roman and Norman periods. But it made me think of my favorite Anglo Saxon Cooking Ideas.

There has been some reporting over the past few years of there being little evidence in the genetic record of the current population* for massive population change as a result of the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and speculation that the change may have been more of a 'top of society' one backed up by cultural/ fashion changes that make people who were Romano British look Anglo Saxon. Anyway...

I like to think that the sudden absence of pots after about 500 AD is not because people had forgotten how to make them, so much as a change in cooking habits.

Let's face it, ceramics are a bit of a pain as storage. One bump and the damn things break (as I was reminded this morning when Kjetil chucked one of my flowerpots down the steps). And if you were using them for cooking, that would happen a *lot*. It did. That's why there is so incredibly much Roman pottery all over the place.

So, maybe people decided that actually, casseroles and stews and slow pot-cooked things are not that great, and became enthusiasts of fast-cooked food.

I like to think of the people of Dark Age Britain as enthusiastic spit-roasters and barbecuers. People who were excellent wood carvers would use nicely turned wooden bowls and platters that don't fall to bits the first time you drop the damn things. I bet they used a lot of woven baskets and intricately made platters as well - just look at the remaining metalwork, you can see these are people who really like to weave and wind things!

They would use wooden spits, perhaps kebab-style, or maybe there would be a treasured metal spit that was rolled out for cooking whole animals, in the manner of a village lamb-roast (am not sure if AS metalworking would be able to make something unbendy/unsnappy enough to do that or not... Maybe the thing to do would be a wooden spit with a sort of metal cuff on each end to protect it from the fire. ) Or maybe they would have useful iron grills, which when they finally died would be recycled into other objects...

I bet they were a lot warmer in their snug wooden houses than chilly people in stone buildings. Have you lived in a stone building? Brrrrrr! You have to build them insanely thick to keep the warmth in and even then the floors are chilly. Whereas the upstairs of our house is single-skin wood and it's *warm*.

In fact, generally, I like to think of the Dark Ages as a period of clever use of wood technology, now sadly lost to us as the Normans burnt a lot of it and the rest has rotted away. I have no idea if this is true, but I'm pretty sure nobody can disprove it!

* I don't quite understand how they can tell what genes are from Chepstow and which ones are from Saxony, given that people have presumably been moving about between the 2 and having sex like bunnies ever since, but I assume there is some way or someone would have pointed it out by now. Probably.

Tags: history, wittering
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