Re-create a meal of Early Frankish Food

One of our leading culinary researchers recently attended a lecture by food historian Jim Chevalier on Early Frankish Foods, hosted by the Culinary Historians of San Diego.

A painting of four people at a dinner table from the 12th century.
Image: 12th Century banqueting scene, Hortus Delicarium, from the Hohenburg Abbey, Alsace, France. Creative Commons info here:

In addition to a discussion of the foods mentioned in Anthimus, and in the Capitulary de Villis, he spoke about the types of foods found in Merovingian graves.  In particular, in one pair of graves they found what seemed to be a funerary feast:

  • Whole eggs (we don’t know if they were consumed raw or cooked)
  • Millet gruel with bacon and “edible fat”
  • Chicken with honey
  • Meat with sage, mustard, and oats
  • A cup with traces of yeast and birch (either birch beer or hydromel*)
  • “Edible fat” (specifically animal fat, not olive oil or the like)
  • Red wine

This would be an easy meal to recreate:  Hard boiled or Roasted Eggs. Roast Chicken basted with honey is easy. Beef or Pork stewed with sage, mustard, and oats sounds like a wonderful dish. We can’t know for sure from just archaeological evidence, but the “edible fat” may have been cured pork fat similar to Italian Lardo or Ukrainian Salo.  If you need a sweet, finish with some pears and plums, which have been found in other gravesites, and wash it all down with birch beer and red wine.

*a drink similar to mead, made with fermented honey and water.

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