by Christopher Arnett
Native Foods Cafe
When most people think of food in the Middle Ages, they probably don’t think of veggies. Popular images abound of such animal fare as pheasants, pigs, venison, and the like. This type of diet was true, but for the nobility. The gorged themselves on a diet largely of meats, white flour, and sweets (and suffered the accompanying ailments such a diet bestowed). However, for the poor peasant, working hard on the land from sunrise to sunset, a different diet was experienced. Largely scorned by the nobility, the diet of peasants was a largely vegetarian one, consisting of grains, legumes, and vegetables. It was much more wholesome and definitely healthier than that of their patronizing overlords.
This is pretty much what a typical night at Native Foods Cafe is like... everyone wearing jeweled crowns.
In Medieval France, the peasant diet consisted mostly of bread, stews, vegetables and wine (cider in the north). They ate fruit, raw and dried. In Italy they ate coarse bread, raw onions, beans, raw turnips, garlic, and (of course) pasta. In Germany it was dark bread, oatmeal porridge, peas, turnips, cabbage, sauerkraut, and lentils. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
The following are some Medieval recipes that are either originally vegan, or altered to become vegan:
Almond milk was a staple of the medieval kitchen. It was used in a wide variety of dishes as a substitute for milk or cream, especially on "fish days", when the church placed restrictions on what foods could be eaten (the most prominent of which were the days during lent). Fortunately, it is quick and easy to make:
2 cups blanched almonds
3 cups hot water
Grind almonds until fine, almost like flour. Pour hot water into almonds, mixing well. Allow to soak for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, discarding solids (they can be used again with more water, but the resulting almond milk will be thinner and won't work as well in recipes).
Pottage was the daily staple for everyone in medieval times. Essentially it was a broth in which meat and/or vegetables were boiled, then chopped meat, herbs and pulses added. The most common vegetables used in making pottage were onions, leeks, celery, white cabbage, garden peas. Saffron strands were sometimes used in making pottage to add color and extra flavor but generally only the wealthy could afford saffron. The following is a recipe for Pottage of Turnips:
Pre-cooking the turnips for this simple vegetable soup reduces the natural bite of the turnips and keeps them from being too strong, leaving a pleasant, warming flavor.
4 - 5 turnips, cut into half-inch cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. powder douce
Put turnips into a pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, and allow to simmer until they start to soften - about 10 minutes. Drain and add remaining ingredients. Return to boil, reduce heat, and continue to cook until done. Serve hot. (makes about 4 cups).
This is a recipe from an ancient Roman cookbook around the year 400. Meatloaf has lasted down to the present day. Enjoy!
2 lbs. Lightlife Foods Gimme Lean Beef
(No eggs required. Gimme Lean is sticky!)
3 tsp. dried parsley (or 3 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. black pepper
Enough broth to moisten the mixture
Moisten herbs with broth and grind them in a mortar if they are fresh. If not, then just mix the ingredients together with your gloved hands until it takes on a uniform consistency.
Put mixture in a metal loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350°F, or until the top is browned. Serve with Roman Gravy.
Roman Gravy with Vegetable Broth
2 cups Vegetable broth
8 oz. mushrooms
1/2 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh)
3 tsp. dried oregano (or 3 Tbsp. fresh)
1 tsp. black pepper
Put broth and spices in a pot on the stove. Boil until thickened. Slice mushrooms, and add to the broth. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Ladle over slices of meatloaf.
And if you’re not in the mood to slave in the kitchen preparing your own vegan meatloaf, swing by your local Native Foods! We are proud to introduce Mom’s Original Meatloaf as part of our Winter Menu. A hearty mixture of lentils, barley, mushrooms, and shallots with a serving of coconut mashed yams dressed in a savory gravy, it’s sure to satisfy even the heartiest barbarian appetites!