Live Like a Viking by Rob Shackleford
|Vikings at Home|
Today, most of humanity lives in a globalized society. Though there are issues regarding diet and the phenomenon of food deserts, where in too many developed cities in nations such as the US, food is calorie-rich but nutrition-poor. Yet we can access foods from the far reaches of the world. Potatoes, corn, chocolate and chillies from Mesoamerica, mandarins, kiwifruit and ice-cream that originated in China, apples from Kazakhstan, and coffee from Ethiopia, just to name a few.
Thanks to the industrial revolution and then the advent of petroleum-based fertilizers and insecticides that led to the Green Revolution in the 1950’s and 60’s, our world can feed more people than ever before. The wealthy can access foods that originated from around this vast and varied world. There are flavours and textures in our food that any other age would not be able to imagine.
Think of your favourite foods: chocolate, maybe a coffee and Danish on the way to work, a tropical fruit salad, a roast turkey dinner, or a burger and fries with a thick-shake.
Keep in mind that Vikings and the other peoples of Europe, such as the Anglo Saxons in the Viking Age of around 750 – 1066 had access to none of these.
So if you, like the Special Forces researchers of the novels Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo, were to be sent 1000 years back in time to visit the Viking Age, one of the most obvious differences would be in the food that you could eat.
For there was no sugar, no oranges, no bananas, no potatoes, no cooking oils, no coffee, tea … and so on. We have barely touched on the fruit and vegetables they didn’t have, let alone the fast-foods so many favour today.
No, in Viking Europe, there was not a burger in sight!
Would you survive?
Let’s not worry too much about not speaking the language, understanding the customs that might accidentally give offense and lead to you being hit with an axe, being able to survive any conflict, lacking medical aid, wearing the wrong clothes, sleeping on straw-filled sleeping pallets, or not having a mirror or implements by which to shave or pluck your eyebrows, or even the light by which to do it anyway.
Let’s not worry about there being no underlying law we recognise, or police, or cars, or comfortable chairs, water taps, refrigerators, ovens, and especially no TV, Phones or stereo.
No, this was like one, long camping trip where you rough it almost every day.
But let’s forget all of that and concentrate on Food!
Over the coming Blogs we will discuss what it was like to eat like a Viking. There will even be recipes you can try at home, only you can use your supermarket to get the ingredients and your kitchen to cook.
As far as Viking-life comes, it will only be a taste.
Find out more
Viking Life by John Guy and Richard Hall (Ticktock, 1998)
Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age by John Haywood (Thames &Hudson, 2000)
Cultural Atlas of the Viking Age edited by Graham-Campbell et al (Andromeda, 1994)
Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood (Penguin, 1996). Detailed maps of Viking settlements in Scotland, Ireland, England, Iceland and Normandy.
About the author:
Hi, I’m Rob Shackleford. I am author of a number of novels, though so far only Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo have been officially published. As Traveller Inceptio looks at the fates of modern historical researchers sent to the early 11th Century Saxon world, Vikings do feature.
Below are the Amazon links for the two novels so far.
In reading my novels, I ask if you wouldn’t mind posting a review and, perhaps, a picture of yourself with my book – either paperback or on kindle. Link to me on Social Media. I most welcome your comments and images.
I hope you enjoy.
Check out my web site at
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