What Did Vikings Eat?
What did Vikings eat? Today, we know about Viking mythology, traditional funerals, and their proud tradition. But, little is known about their eating habits and their day-to-day menu. Therefore, the Viking diet is a mystery to most people.
What did these warriors eat to survive harsh winters? As it turns out, their food was fresh and healthy. Actually, a poor Viking ate much better than an English peasant during the Middle Ages. However, this doesn’t mean that the Viking diet was perfect. Overall, the Viking diet was more of a model of innovation and efficiency in a time when cooks had to deliver the most with very limited ingredients.
The Surprisingly Sufficient Viking Diet
Vikings had meat every day. Everyone was eating meat, from kings to common sailors. In most cases, this would be pork, as hogs were easy to raise and quick to mature. In addition to pork, Vikings also eat goats, mutton, and beef. Interestingly, horses were also raised for food.
As full-time hunters, Vikings would capture their food. With so much time on the water, fish was a major part of their diet. At the time the most common fish were herrings that were prepared in different ways: salted, dried, pickled, smoked, and even preserved in whey.
Vegetables And Fruits
Vegetables and fruits were more vivid than any of our modern varieties. They would use carrots every day, although at the time carrots were completely white, and the only available. Moreover, farmers cultivated wild apples, berries, peas, beans, and cabbages. Also, an extremely wide range of herbs and seasoning helped flavor Viking food. Commonly, they used wild horseradish, cumin, and coriander.
They Had Only Two Meals A Day
Vikings eat two meals a day. The first meal was always one hour after the sun rising, and the second one was at night once the working day was over. Children would eat dried fruit or even bread or buttermilk while adults would eat for breakfast some leftovers from the night before, with fruit and bread.
The evening meal always included vegetable, next to meat or fish. They might also eat dried fruit with honey as a sweet treat. The only sweetener the Vikings knew about was honey. They would drink daily buttermilk, mead, or ale.
A Typical Viking Meal
A typical Viking meal is described in the poem about Hárbard and Thor. In one part, Tor tells: “Ferry me over the sound, then I will feed you tomorrow! I have a basket on my back, never was the food better. I ate in peace before I left home, herrings, and oatmeal, so I am still full.”
Dairy And Nuts
The truth is that the majority of cows were slaughtered for milk. However, regardless s of that they would still live long enough to raise a calf. Vikings enjoyed drinking milk, buttermilk, and whey, they also used the milk to make other dairy products including cheese, butter, and yogurt-like cheese.
Viking farms included apple, cherries, pears and different types of berries during the whole year (wild berried in the summer and). So, nuts and hazelnuts were more form of a treat rather than a real meal. Vikings dried their food and stored it for winter.
Vegetables and fruits were dried and stored for winter. Also, grains were ground and the flour made into bread. This was also stored and preserved. Although fresh food was hard to find by winter and in the spring, the record showed that Viking didn’t suffer from mineral or vitamin deficiencies.
Yes, Vikings had a rich and balanced diet, but it doesn’t mean that some things could have been better. There were some major pitfalls. It was discovered from archaeological excavations of Viking cesspits and even sewers that majority of Vikings suffered from parasites in their intestines.
Simply said, they had worms. In addition to that, the same cesspit excavations revealed a significant amount of undigested seeds from the whole wheat bread they ate. They even ate weeds that were highly poisonous to humans.