Bringing Tastes Of History to life...

Recipes Ancient and more Modern

When and wherever prehistoric humans settled in one place for any length of time the hearth became the focal point for the families or groups of hunter-gatherers.  Fire offered not only a means to cook and eat, but also warmth, light, and protection in a hostile world.  Over time people began living in more permanent structures.  Small villages emerged thereby establishing the beginnings of later civilisations.  “One pot cooking” so characteristic of the Iron Age, and earlier epochs, remained the principle means of preparing food.  But as the centuries passed, the hearth, the early dwelling’s focal point where the family spent most of its time, slowly evolved into the kitchen.

Early kitchens were small, with a simple fire-pit, brazier, grill or fireplace at their heart.  Ancient Greeks often cooked their meals out doors usually in the courtyard around which their houses were built.  Wealthy Roman households, in contrast, would have a dedicated kitchen.  With the heightened risk of fire in towns, poorer Romans, living in tenement blocks, were prevented from having cooking fires on upper storeys.  For them obtaining food from the multitude of street vendors was the obvious solution, and thus the fast food industry began.

Yet even from these early beginnings kitchens were furnished with much of the cooking equipment familiar to us today: pots, pans, roasting spits, knives, and a flat surface for preparing food.  As now, the cook’s main tasks were to skin, bone, chop, peel, slice, broil, boil, fry and roast the ingredients.

Lighting a fire has never been a simple prospect, so keeping a fire burning was indispensable.  Naturally this meant the kitchen was one of the warmest rooms, and in cold weather it made sense for a family to gather, work, eat and sleep within.  Such would be the experience of many ordinary folk living in the medieval period.  Yet kitchens would remain small, dark, poorly ventilated, smoky and uncomfortable places.

In wealthier households, kitchens would evolve into larger and more complicated spaces.  Cooking tasks began to be performed in separate areas or rooms dedicated to them.  Larders, pantries, butteries, cellars, smokehouses and ice-houses were thus built to store particular foods or accommodate their processing.  Completely new facilities emerged for the preparation of certain foods, such as cheese making or brewing beer.  Although kitchen areas grew in size, working conditions remained largely unchanged.  So did the somewhat low status of the kitchen staff who continued to slave away, quite literally in wealthy Roman households.

By bringing history to life, and through experimentation, one of our aims is to re-create and produce good food from different historical periods.  This is, however, our long-term goal.

Right now, our focus is on the period we know and love the best...Roman.  Thus, our first showcase of recipes is very much Iron Age, or more accurately Graeco-Roman in flavour. Each represents the dishes we typically prepare and cook at public and private events the length and breadth of Great Britain.

Yet, the "Mediterranean Triad" of foods - wheat, olive oil and wine - eaten by the Romans would have been very familiar also to the ancient Greeks. 

Iron Age

The Greeks

The Romans

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Coming soon...

The Tudors

The "Georgians"

World War Two

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