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Cooking from a Mesolithic garden and other stories

2009

Editions: Jane le Besque

INTRODUCTION

 

The ingredients featured in this book mostly lurk north of latitude 45°. The Mesolithic garden sprouted at the end of the last ice age and continues to grow precariously. The more celebrated archaic gardens are Eden1, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon2, and the poetic Greek and Persian gardens.

Cooking from a Mesolithic garden and other stories is a stage-set for the many tribes who crossed over the mentioned line of latitude,  into the garden, sometime between ten thousand years BC and the Roman expansion. The cooks sourced their ingredients from its lakes, pastures and woodlands.

The recipes are artistic fantasies fabricated on the principles that our distant ancestors did use plants for medicine and hallucinogens3,   and that…

…thirty thousand years ago our distant ancestors used complex palettes of finely ground powdered pigments. They walked for days seeking clay ochres, dioxides and charcoal. They bound the materials together with animal fat, vegetable juices, urine and blood, producing paint for their monumental frescoes. They engraved and painted on rocks4, in caves5 and probably on every surface around them.

…if such complex tasks were achieved, then surely our ancestors might have appreciated at least an omelette flavoured with a little wild garlic sprinkled on the top?A Genève, le 14 décembre 2020.

Some of the ingredients in   Cooking from a Mesolithic garden and other stories are now extinct or are protected by various conventions6. I have marked them with a spiral (symbol of eternity), to remind us that in fact they are not so.

I suggest that you replace the following protected or extinct species:

  • wild plants
  • wild mammals
  • wild birds and their eggs
  • fish
  • molluscs
  • reptiles
  • amphibians

with free-range organic produce.

If you go out foraging in the way of our ancestors, depending on the generosity of Mother Nature, it may be weeks before you can return home. For this reason, quantities have not been included in the recipes. One or a hundred of a desired ingredients will do.

There are one or two recipes that are toxic. I have marked them with a red square. Please do not try them. The drawings in Cooking from a Mesolithic garden and other stories  are not viable. Please check the potential poisoning risks of gathering food in the wild with a serious guide.

Nota bene: As far as we know, King Solomon never came to Europe on his carpet nor made chutney and jam.

Jane Le Besque