Wurt Bolfs Cooking with the Legion Part I: On the Move
Authors note: While these are all real recipes, Ive not tried any of them. They should be edible, but tastes vary. Try at your own risk.
- 1lb. uncooked grain or beans or rice.
- 2 lbs. cheese.
- 1/4 lb. bacon or salted meat.
- 2 lbs. of small ale or wine.
- a pinch of salt.
- 1pt. best brandy or hard ale.
Once every 10 day the men can be issued up to a pound of bread or cakes instead of their grain ration. Each legionnaire often purchases herbs, eggs and vegetables from towns and farms along the legions path. Occasionally a friendly Mani will treat his men to an extra portion of hard ale or perhaps meat purchased from a nearby village. More likely though, the Officers mess will receive the "gifts" while the lowly linari must fend for themselves.
The legionaries are expected to forage as they travel. A legionnaire quickly learns to find foods at their breaks or during their travels.
The following vegetables can be found in Tharda. For the most part linari become well acquainted with recognizing these vegetables as they grow wild.
GM Note: Alternate names are presented in () if you want your players to find themselves in a truly exotic environment. If your version of Hârn has no tubers, this plant is not available. My p-Hârn has no potatoes but does have tubers.
- Onions: Leek (least or porros) *, cepas (onion) *, chives (britlas) - green onion, welsh onions (uniones) - small, sharp onion, shallots (ascolonias) - green onion.
- Garlic (alias or garlaec) *.
- Carrots (carritas).
- Skirret (silum) - a starch.
- Pignut - similar to hickory nuts.
- Beets: beetroot - root of a beet, chard - greens of a beet, leaf beet.
- Beans: there are several dozen varieties.
- Peas: there are several dozen varieties.
- Lentils: there are several dozen varieties.
- Lettuce: cress, watercress, mustard - used for their greens, hollow cress, mallow, spinach, orache (tun melde), seaweeds laver: (laber) edible red seaweeds.
- Turnip (noep).
- Goosefoot - a type of berry.
- Celery: celery, fennel (finol) - similar to celery with a bulbous root, artichoke.
- Cucumber (hwerhwette).
Here is the list available in the wilds of Tharda (and equally throughout Hârn). Most of these herbs have some form of medicinal value when taken in large doses. Small doses, however, are just enough to make dinner more palitable.
- Halbise (Herbal healing draught)
- Shorinda (Poison, also called Blade Venom)
- Tarvyn (Love Potion)
- Rytyrian (Poison Antidote/Mild Laxative)
- Chirtyn (Dental Rinse)
- Mirgystal (Mild Pain Reliever)
- Wyntalick (Endurance Potion)
- Ithola (Burn Ointment)
- Blue Crescents (Pimpinella Anisum)[digestive]
- Royal Herb (Ocimum Basilicum) [poison]
- Evergreen Mint (Laurus Nobilis) [protection]
- Sweet Bite (Carum Carvi) [sugar]
- Groom's Aide (Elettaria Cardamomum)[breath freshener/poison]
- Lover's Lick (Apiumgraveolens) [aphrodisiac]
- Zeylancium (Cinnamomum Zeylancium burmannii)[flavoring/medicinal]
- Tongue Spice (Syzgium Aromaticum)[pain killer]
- Manna Spice (Coriandrum Sativum) [lovepotion]
- Wandering Spice (Cuminum Cyminum)
- Lulling Herb (Anethum Graveolens) [calmative]
- Meeting Seed (Foeniculum Vulgare) [breath freshener]
- Horn Spice (Zingiber Officinale) [curative]
- Cough Bane (Origanum Majorana) [stimulant]
- Mint (Mentha Spiata) [perfume]
- Yellow Bane (Brassica Hirta) [purgitive]
- Mountain Joy (Origanum) [flavoring]
- common rhubarb nutmeg
Seasonal fruits make up a large part of a legionnaires diet. Wild fruit trees are common and available for foraging. Citizens and Equestrians owning stands of wild fruit trees often permit foraging legionnaires through so long as they take no more than half of the available fruit. Any more and the land owner will demand recompense for the loss of foods for his slaves and freedmen.
- Apples: (appel) both sour and sweet, crab apples, and medlars (oepeningas).
- Berries: Mulberries (maccabees), blackberries (blaceberain), strawberries (streabariye), raspberries (hind bergean), bilberries (hoepergean), rowan berries.
- Tree berries: cherries (ciristreow (treow ~ tree)), mirtle (wir treow), slow (slah), Elder, plums - damson like.
- Dried fruit such sa raisins and prunes are also known.
Wild stands of nut trees area rare find. Occasionally a land owner will clear an area and allow the nut trees to reproduce themselves over time; but there are only a few settlements in Tharda over 100 years old. Nut trees are slow to grow, and slower still to bear fruit.
- dill lovage rue black cumin
- chervil hooseleek sage agrimony
- savory white
- rocket coriander tansy wormwood
- mints poppy bay mugwort
- rosemary fenugreek cumin betony
The legionnaires are expected to buy goods for fair market value from the villages through which they pass. The acceptance and support of the peasants (slaves, freedmen and citizens alike) relies heavily on this. Legionnaires who steal, or take from the local citizenry are flogged for a minor case and beheaded for a major case. The difference between the two is dependent on the amount stolen.
Usually the Milities Fabrica or "book" of the unit has collected a few drams from his fellow legionnaires. This money goes towards purchasing herbs, eggs and fresh vegetables.
A linari legionnaires camp fire is the best place to see what kind of food a legionnaire can expect to make on the march.
The richer you are in Tharda, the less your meat tastes like meat. Thardians love spiced foods, and thick sauces. So the natural starting point is a recipe for such a sauce.
Malerik of the second tenaci second maniple Corani 2nd is a Milities Fabrica whos cooking is renowned in the Corani 2nd. His sauce, he claims, is what makes him so famous, and so rich.
He begins with 2 cups of wine or cider. He prefers to use young wine or cider, but those with sweeter teeth may prefer older beverages.
Next he adds 2 handfuls of wild onions, chopped fine. Then in goes an ounce of ground ginger, tumeric, and black pepper. Salt is added to taste, and lastly goes in an equal portion of apples (or other fresh or dried fruit) and beans all chopped finely.
The sauce is boiled down to a thick syrup. Each time he uses it he adds a bit more liquid and whatever of the ingredients he has on hand. The sauce is added both directly to the meat as it cooks as well as poured atop the served portion.
Malerik claims even this sauce will make the legions salted meat taste edible.
The "mess" is both the name of the place where legionnaires go to eat and the stew made from dumping everything the legionnaire is issued for the day into one pot. This inedible porridge is not popular but it is filling and is officially called "Standard fare." A few legionnaires have found a better recipe for a porridge that fits Thardic diets just fine. 1 lb uncooked grain or rice is placed in the pot and covered with an equal amount of small ale or wine.
The pot is brought to a rolling boil and then removed to the edge of the fire until the grain or rice has doubled in size. Salt and oils may be added to the grain or rice as it is cooking.
Chopped onions, apples and other fruits of the season are added to the porridge once the pot has doubled its volume. Cheese is grated and stirred in. 1/2 pt. of hard ale is added as liquid and the mixture stirred regularly as it is brought over the heat once more. Honey is added when served if so desired.
This meatless porridge is preferred on cold northern nights. Leftovers can be baked in earthenware dishes in the ashes of a fire. It comes out as a chewy bun that keeps well for days. Bits of salted meat are often laid in the center of the bun to add their flavor to the second meal.
Sometimes called garum, it is the most common flavoring in the Thardic mess. It is a mixture of brine and fish. It gives a subtle flavor to savory dishes. Mix 2 tablespoons strong red wine, 3 oz. salt, 3 anchovies (or other salty fish) and 1 teaspoon dried marjoram in a saucepan or boiling bag. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Cool and strain through muslin. Carry in a wine skin ready for use.
Take a 4 lb chicken, open it at the rear and clean out the insides.
Pound cellery, pepper and caraway seeds. Moisten with liqamen and white wine. Place the chicken in an earthenware casserole and over it pour the sauce. Ideally this would cook in a moderate oven for a little over an hour. But on the march, the cooks are forced to bury the earthenware pots beneath a fire. The fire is then built high. After 2 hours the pot is dug out and served.
Mix some fresh asafeetida (cornflower) with water. Cook for two minutes in a saucepan and pour over chicken just before serving with a sprinkle of pepper.
A favorite among marching men, this sweet bread is served only during the supper hour, after camp is set up. Large cubes of dry bread are dropped into a boiling bag filled with half a cup of milk.
Once soaked through, the bread is spooned out into a saucepan where it is fried with fat until the outside are crisp. They are then dipped in honey and served while still hot. Some Milities Fabrica have told us they prefer to fry them in butter mixed with honey, and serve them with mint or salt sprinkled on top.
A boiling pot of sib can always be found somewhere in a marching camp.
- 1 cup of wine or cider
- 1 cup of fresh fruit or 2 cups dried fruit
- 2 oz. honey.
Pour the wine or cider into a large boiling bag and bring up to a slow and gentle boil. Carefully add the fruit (chopped) and the salt. When the boil stops add the honey. Stir until the boil returns. Pour through muslin and serve hot.
Several variants have been suggested to the common recipe. One linari suggested adding vanilla bean, either powdered or whole to the recipe. Vanilla is an import and very expensive. Another recommended using chocolate. Chocolate sib is very popular in the Fobin legion. Vanilla is more common around Coranan. Shiran legion prefers to prepare sib without any apples. They use a variety of berries and hazel nuts instead.
A common staple these cakes are easy to make.
- 1 cup oats, or other grain. Grind fine.
- 1 e gg.
- Milk to moisten.
Combine the ground grain and a sprinkle of salt. Build it into a mountain, making a depression in the center. In that depression add your egg and break its yoke. Gently turn the flour into the egg, adding milk to moisten the mixture. When a paste is evenly formed with few lumps, sculpt into a circle laying on its side.
Place the cakes on a flat (or frying pan) and place over the fire. Allow to cook slowly, coating evenly with fat. Flip when the bottom looks browned. Takes 10-20 minutes to cook, depending on the fire.
Most add honey to their oat cakes, a few mix in their salted meat before cooking.
While these recipes are close approximations after a week of travel one thing has become obvious: A hungry legionnaire will put almost anything in a pot. Soups or stews are made nightly by the foragers to supplement the legionnaires mess. And no food is wasted. What the men do not eat is mixed with grains and baked into cakes throughout the night. These cakes, sometimes grey in color and quite inedible, are heavily spiced or honeyed, and handed out as breakfasts. Sometimes eggs are added to the cakes, cooked atop them on a flat. During the breaks a legionnaire eats what they can, when they can.