What the vikings definitely didn’t eat

Browsing the web, especially on pinterest I sometimes come across some medieval and viking recipes, for reenactment events or markets no less, that makes me groan. This isn’t about perfect authenticity, but it is about presenting something that is plausible – especially when cooking for the public.

In my little project to make a list of what the vikings might have eaten, I thought it might be a good idea to make a list of food that is definitely no-go for viking and early medieval events. The food on this list was either not invented till much much later OR is food stuff only found in the Americas and that the Europeans wouldn’t know till after Columbus – like turkey.

So the foods on this list is things that is just not possible, not things that are merely not plausible. I want to press that for fantasy larping events you can do what-ever you want, unless your setting/GM’s says otherwise.

Meat

  • Turkey

Vegetables & fruit

  • Potatoes (You of course knew that) & Sweet Potatoes
  • Red peppers of any kind
  • Tomato (I know! But how do we make a stew without tomatoes?)
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Pineapple
  • Squash, pumpkins, zucchini and other gourds
    However melon and cucumber is native to Eurasia.
  • Jerusalem artichoke (wow there is a misleading name)
  • Eggplants/aubergine are rather unlikely as they don’t seem to have been introduced to most of Europe until muslim’s influenced European cooking

Nuts & Cereal

  • Corn (as in maize)
  • Peanut
  • Pecan
  • Most beans (kidney, black, pinto, navy, etc.).
    Broad beans (fava) are however native to Eurasia and has been found in viking settlements.
  • Sunflowers
  • Quinoa (you guessed that – I bet you did)

Spices & herbs

  • Vanilla
  • Chilies
  • Tea
    While tea is native to Eurasia, it is an east Asian plant is a much later addition to the European experience.
  • Coffee
    The earliest credible evidence of either coffee drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century, in the Sufi Muslim Yemen. So it isn’t fitting for either for viking or Medieval events.
  • Sugar
    Sugar didn’t arrived in Europe till around 1100. It was not widely used until the 16th century. Until then it was reserved for rich people, who used it both to sweeten food and as a medicine. Use honey where you need sweetness, or dried berries.

My sources are my general historical knowledge, a variety of websites and this fantastic wiki about the origin of food.


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