Do you want to eat like a viking?? Or at the very least, to the extent that a culinary master such as Lord Armin Elfsten has been able to reconstruct? Lord Elfsten has taken it upon himself to share his talents at this year’s May Crown event, organizing a Gröt feed for the populace and guests of the kingdom of An Tir.
While much of what we know of Swedish and Scandinavian culture is rife with conjecture and uncertainty, Lord Elfsten has taken his decades of culinary experience and self-professed “obsession” with the cuisine of the Vendel period (AD 550-790) and painstakingly reconstructed a profile of the foods and dishes that were likely to have been staples of the northern countries, leading up to the era of Viking expansionism.
Describing the era as “pretty much untouched” as far as dietary reconstruction efforts are concerned, much of the work Lord Elfsten has done is both novel and unprecedented, basing itself off of archeological evidence of ingredients, storage, implements and the animals that were commonly kept at the time.
Like many ancient cultures, the Scandinavians did not keep what we would think of as cookbooks, so his creations are often extrapolated from seemingly unrelated information. One such clue would be to look at what was thrown away in midden heaps or in latrines, then comparing what was found in burials to get an idea of what is ceremonial and what is day to day. Another tactic is to look ahead: even in modern times our recipes do not change rapidly. A dish we know of 300 years later was very likely informed by the cooking of that era’s great-great-great grandparents.
His extensive training, study and painstaking research has resulted in the re-construction of gröt, the dish that could’ve “fed the Norse expansion throughout Europe.” A thick porriage packed with grains, vegetables and tender meat and topped with leek butter and skyr cheese, it is both simple to prepare and a complete, satisfying meal. Exactly the thing for the ancient viking on the go.
Even with his expertise, the process of bringing the fuel of the vikings into our modern age was not without stumbling blocks. “Skimmed milk makes excellent skyr,” He confided. “buttermilk makes something that is not skyr. Nor is it good. Also hops ruin pretty much everything except beer.” His conclusion is that the Vikings were unlikely to waste perfectly good hops on something as trivial as dinner.
So join us at May Crown for a true Viking dinner! The Barony of Madone is proudly hosting Lord Elfsten as he serves a selection of delicious Gröt creations, from the savory and smoky beef and pork options, to a sweet offering featuring honey, fruits and berries. There will even be an option featuring broadbeans for our vegetarian and gluten conscious guests.
Cost is “pay what you can,” with a suggested $5 donation that will go directly to the general fund of the Barony. Armin’s house of Gröt will open at noon on Saturday, serving until 3 PM or until the gröt is göne.