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Discussing: Food in Rohan

Food in Rohan

What kinds of food would they have in Rohan, especially in the lower classes? I expect some simple meats, and vegetables like potatoes, and herbs. And would they have cows in middle Earth (not specifically in Rohan, but anywhere) just curious, while on the topic of food. How would they cook it, in stews or soups, or leave it plain sometimes? (Sorry...I know NOTHING about food )

~Moriel

 

 

Re: Food in Rohan

This is one of the fun things about writing about Tolkien's world because there are so many anachronisms in his own writing. Your mention of the lowly potato is one such example, because in the Europe of the Middle Ages the potato was unknown. So much for historical authenticity! So I think we are permitted some liberties as well. I was struggling with the idea of having coffee in Rohan (definitely unknown in Anglo-Saxon England!).

Most definitely they had cows, pigs, goats, sheep, geese, chickens...
I think you get the idea!

As for preparation, I think the lower classes would sometimes have meats roasted over a fire on a spit, but more often they would stretch the food by making stews and soups, filling out the meals with bread and fresh or dried fruits, depending on the season. If you are writing at the harvest season then fresh foods would be readily available. In winter they would have mostly dried fruits and root vegetables like potatoes, squashes, onions, etc. and meats that had been preserved by salting or smoking (salt pork, smoked hams, etc.) Of course a hunter could provide some fresh meat for the table, and there's always the odd chicken that ends up in the soup pot!

Fresh and dried herbs would be plentiful, salt, as ever, would be a precious commodity but would be available to most I would think.

I have a hard time picturing anyone in Rohan being truly poor though
that's just my vision. But there were definitely simple folk like the herders.

All of this is reminding me that I haven't eaten yet myself!

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Food in Rohan

I couldn't say anything for sure about ME of course, but in the middle ages at least, the important thing to remember is that for the lower classes meat was a rarity. An average household might have kept a pig for meat, raising it during the summer, and then slaughtering before winter set in - because feeding a pig over winter would have been unfeasible. They would have then preserved the meat and used it sparingly over the next months, adding bits of it to soup etc. I think in the case of Rohan, it's possible you might replace the pig with a few sheep - since they're grazing animals. But probably both, for an average family on the land, so they have the sheep for wool and mutton, and the pig a reliable, yearly source of meat.

I know that in England, at least, the peasants' main diet consisted of a soup/stew called 'pottage'. This was mostly peas, beans or lentils, with whatever vegetables they had to add - carrots, turnips, cabbage, etc. For the very poor, this woiuld have been all they could manage. The more prosperous they were, the wider range of food available to them, naturally. They might have had a bit of bacon to throw in, or poultry or fish (if they had the resources to keep/catch them), and they might then have also had bread to go with it. It would have been very coarse, hard, dark bread. I'm not sure how much of a grain-producing society Rohan would be - pretty much up to the writer to decide, I guess.

Considering the fact that Rohan probably relies heavily on other herd animals as well as the horses, I think it's safe to say that a peasant would keep a milk cow or goat as well as a pig - so you can add milk and cheese to the diet. The by-products would have gone to feed the pig, so nothing's wasted.

I would also here like to point out that the diet of the lower class people was actually far healthier for them - so long as they got enough of it and weren't starving - compared to what the very rich were eating. At this time, meat was literally the 'food of kings', and they would have had numerous servings of it in a day, along with other rich foods like cheese, butter, cream and eggs, and very little fruit, and even less vegetables.

Of course, medieval europe isn't necessarily the same as ME, so really the writer can take as much of this into account, or as little. Hope this was a bit helpful in any case!

 

 

Re: Food in Rohan

Thanks!

All of that was helpful, and some of it I already assumed, but it's good to have some reasurance.

~Moriel

 

 

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