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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 6:57 am    Post subject: Medieval trail rations         Reply with quote

I thought I'd posted this already but either I didn't or else it disappeared into the ether?

Anyway a buddy of mine was telling me that he saw some program on the food channel where they talked about some medieval version of pemmican that our knightly forebears might have been munching on campaign. Anyone know anything about that sort of thing?

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: Medieval trail rations         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
I thought I'd posted this already but either I didn't or else it disappeared into the ether?


Russ,
During the middle of last week, an old copy of the site came online during some hosting troubles. I think you posted in that old copy of the site, which went away when everything came back up.

Happy

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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that salted pork was a fairly common food stuff of the time, and I suppose that, depending on how liberal you are with the definition, you could call salted pork pemmican-like. It is, I suppose, closer to pemmican than say kesh or a souffle, or one of those other French egg things that I can't spell correctly.

I have been curious for a while now; there have to have been cows in medieval Europe, but I haven't found all that many references to the consumption of beef. I'm sure that part of that is because a cow makes a better beast of burden than a pig (I know they show a couple of pigs yoked to a plow in the movie "Willow," but I think the rest of us will have trouble getting much real work done that way), and is cheaper to use for that purpose than a horse. Still, I'm curious if there is more to it than that?

-Grey

P.S. If you track down this show and order it from food network, they will make sure that your e-mail and mail box never go hungry (figuratively) again. They are almost as bad as the folks with "the Fun-to-Read Catalog."

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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The prefered beast of burden was the ox, cows were kept since they produced milk which was turned into butter and cheese as well as new little cows Wink A live cow was worth far more than the meat on it's bones to a peasant or a yeoman.
Still beef was eaten, soldiers got beef more often since cows were "meat on the hoof" and coudl be brought with an army more easily than the other meat producing animals. The english became infamous for their apetite for beef which at times caused problems when they went campaigning in hotter countries such as Spain.
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: Medieval trail rations         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Russ Ellis wrote:
I thought I'd posted this already but either I didn't or else it disappeared into the ether?


Russ,
During the middle of last week, an old copy of the site came online during some hosting troubles. I think you posted in that old copy of the site, which went away when everything came back up.


Ahhh thanks for the explanation.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug, 2005 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greyson Brown wrote:
I know that salted pork was a fairly common food stuff of the time, and I suppose that, depending on how liberal you are with the definition, you could call salted pork pemmican-like. It is, I suppose, closer to pemmican than say kesh or a souffle, or one of those other French egg things that I can't spell correctly.

I have been curious for a while now; there have to have been cows in medieval Europe, but I haven't found all that many references to the consumption of beef. I'm sure that part of that is because a cow makes a better beast of burden than a pig (I know they show a couple of pigs yoked to a plow in the movie "Willow," but I think the rest of us will have trouble getting much real work done that way), and is cheaper to use for that purpose than a horse. Still, I'm curious if there is more to it than that?

-Grey

P.S. If you track down this show and order it from food network, they will make sure that your e-mail and mail box never go hungry (figuratively) again. They are almost as bad as the folks with "the Fun-to-Read Catalog."


Hmm that's a good thought about emailing the show... my buddy lead me to believe at least that it wasn't just salt pork they were talking about but rather some mixture of berries, grains and animal fats...

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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Aug, 2005 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that would have been Alton Brown's "Good Eats" show on Protien and Granola bars. Just watched it the other night myself.

I can't seem to find those recipes on foodnetwork.com, however. I am probably not looking in the right place, though.

I do know that the guys with the Brambles Schoole of Defense worked on medieval recipes, perhaps you could contact them? http://home.att.net/~bbramble/
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Aug, 2005 9:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spanish conquistadors drove not only cattle but sheep and pigs along the trail for rations as well. In the rather detailed records of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition into what is now the American South West, the numbers of all of the above animals were closely tallied. In fact, you can find out exactly how many of each were brought along, though they were rather lax about recording the numbers of Indian auxilliaries who came along.

There is an extremely moving incident in which one of the captains, Mechor Diaz, an extremely competent frontiersman (he rode with dispatches from the environs of Albuquerque to Mexico City and back with only a couple of companions, then back to Culiacan to head up a second expedition) was killed. While exploring what is now South-Eastern California, some of the soldier's dogs were harrassing the sheep that had been brought along for food. Diaz became somewhat annoyed at this behaviour (probably not for the first time) and charged his horse at the dogs. He hurled his lance a la jinete at one of the dogs, but unfortunately the lance missed, and the horse ran against it, shoving the shod butt end of the lance next to the saddle and into Diaz's groin, piercing his bladder. When his men had lifted him from his horse and layed him down, he said "If I had a silver tube, I would live". He died two weeks later, deeply mourned by his companions.

At any rate, it was pretty much a standard of European armies, as Elling said, to drive their rations along with them, using the beast's own power to get him there.

Cheers,

Gordon

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Brock H




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More than likely bread was the main ration item. Michael Prestwich in Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience has a chapter on logistics. He quotes a number of times from surviving records detailing ration accounts. Wheat makes up the greatest quantity. Also named are malt, oats, beans, peas, cheese, oxen, sheep, pigs, bacons, herring, cod, salmon and stockfish. There is also at least one mention for a castle garrison for provision of "companagium, relish to go with bread," whatever that is. And naturally, beer, ale and wine. Can't find any mention of fruit or vegetables other than grains and legumes. Those may have been procured locally on an ad hoc basis from the countryside an army passed through.

No mention anywhere of something like pemmican. Of course, these are listings of mostly unprepared foodstuffs. No telling how they might have been mixed together in prepartion. But I would think bread, pottage or porridge and roasted or boiled meat were the most likely rations.
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David R. Glier





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oddly enough, I think I can shed a little light on how those raw materiels might have been put together.

If any of you are from Cincinnati, or have passed through the city for any length of time, you may have heard of a rather unique redional product called goetta. (pronounced "geta", though that's hardly important.) It is a mixture of ground pork, beef and oats that -today- is typically sliced into patties and fried like a breakfast sausage. It's very tasty -as most cincinnatians will readily attest. Laughing Out Loud

Today we package it as a solid refrigerated product. However, originally, as it was brought over by german immigrants, it was porrage-like product made to stretch the less than generous amouts of meat they had through the winter. Think like the consistancy of the gravy in biscuts & gravy. "dunking grits" was it's original name -and as far as we can tell it was meant to go with bread. Wink

It happens to be quite filling an nourashing -just the thing for sustaining a man on the march. Big Grin
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David;

Goetta! Oh, Man, that's great stuff! I had reason to be in Covington, Ky during their big pig festival, or whatever it was, and about gorged myself on that stuff. Oh, Man, what a breakfast some of that and a few eggs makes! We stayed at a little B&B near the waterfront, and the owners could cook that stuff up like there was no tomorrow. Many, you're making me hungry! But you're right, it's very Medieval, and the Germanic counterpart to Haggis, really, i.e. "How to make this meat stretch to feel all these hungry mouths..."

Ah, "Cincinnati Chicken", that's good stuff too...

Cheers!

Gordon

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon.

Goetta, sounds a bit like what we can get locally in greek and deli restaurants called Gyro, could be similar as it is a very tasty sausage like " mystery meat " . It is usually served hot in a cone of peta bread with onions, tomatoes, leatuce and a LOT of white garlic sauce. I'm making myself hungry here. The pork & beef and the " UNKNOWN " sounds about right as a description.

Could be the same thing with a different regional name? In Montréal we have something else we call " smoked meat " that would be called pastramy in a New York deli. ( The same but different. )

Pemmican is North American Indian trail rations or Inuit I believe. I think pop corn was also used at trail rations.

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeeze, Jean! I just had dinner, and I'm getting hungry again! But anyway, I suspect that just about all cultures had their ways of "stretching" things by adding grains and "other stuff" to their meat scraps. Then either salt the heck out of them, smoke the heck out of them, dry them, or pickle them to preserve them from the ravages of microbes!

Hmm... is that a Summer Sausage in my refrigerator, calling my name???

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon;

One cultures SPAM get called KAM or CLICK. ( Canadian version of spam. ) Maybe there is a mystery meat conspiracy to market these things all over the world under different names ( The Da Vinci Code of SPAM. Razz Razz Razz Laughing Out Loud )

S secret
P process
A animal
M meat

Or SPAM is SOYLENT GREEN = SOYLENT GREEN is people. Wink

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great information guys, I'd given up hope for this thread. Maybe I can find a recipe now.... hmmmm
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

S secret
P process
A animal
M meat

Or SPAM is SOYLENT GREEN = SOYLENT GREEN is people. Wink


Well, you DO know that the folks in New Guinea, who are in a position to know, DO say that Spam is the closest thing to Long Pork there is, don't you?

Ugh... there goes the appetite. Sad

Anyway, glad to be of help, Russ! Big Grin

Gordon

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Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Aug, 2005 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ;

Well in spite of a few bad jokes I hope there was some " real " useful info on this topic so far.

Dried meat, beef jerky style may also have been used or old boots chewed on by a starving retreating army !

Only half joking but did any of Napoleons' have to resort to such desperate measures in their winter retreat from Russia ?

Maybe a touch of cannibalism ? And unpopular officer for lunch. ( Sorry, lost it, I tried to be serious! Didn't last. Sad Blush Laughing Out Loud )

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David Martin




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PostPosted: Tue 23 Aug, 2005 5:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I read something years ago and can't remember the source, but the gist was that after experimenting with several different types of rations, the frontiersman of early America found that pemmican was the best. It provided all of a person's basic nutritional needs and was very stable over time.
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