Historic Period Foods

Easy Historic Period Foods for Pot Lucks

Historic Period Foods
Cooking in a camp kitchen for a group meal at the Pennsic War

OK, so I hear you saying: “But, Mistress Christianna, all I have time to do before one of these potluck things is run to the Kroger and pick up something quick.  How can I possibly make an attempt at historic period foods?”  And to you I say:  Here’s a list of a few things you can pick up at your local grocery store and stay well within the boundaries set up for pre-17th century Western European food.  There’s lots more, but this ‘shopping list’ can help you get started.

Looking forward to the feast!


Deli Department

cold sliced deli meats, chicken, ham, roast beef, salami, sausages (kielbasa type), chunks o’ ham, roasted chickens, canned smoked oysters, clams, sardines

Dijon-style mustard, stone ground mustard, onion relish, horseradish sauce

sliced cheeses, cheese spreads (herbed and peppered), feta, blue, cheddar, brie, ricotta, Swiss, yogurt (for dipping fruit or veggies in, consider some sugar or honey and yogurt for dipping strawberries), herb dip, roasted garlic spread

olives, pickles, pickled vegetables, giardinera  (that stuff with the cauliflower), hardboiled eggs, pickled eggs, marinated artichoke hearts, pickled okra, pickled mushrooms – many of these “salads” can be found in the deli department of stores with in-house kitchens

Produce Department

asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumber, mushrooms, radishes (red and white), scallions – maybe a quick veggie platter?

˜European” salad blends – no iceberg! – with  oil and vinegar dressing,  can be served with fresh herbs, nuts, fruits, pickles, capers, etc. layered on top or tossed in.

oranges, blood oranges, peaches, pears, apples (not Delicious), applesauce, apricots, cherries, grapes, watermelon, (cantaloupe & honeydew aren’t exactly period, but close to period varieties), figs, plums, quince, pomegranate, berries (strawberries, blueberries)

Any of these as dried fruits, along with dates, raisins, currants, prunes

Many of these fruits can be found as juices as well

almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts

Breads and Baked Goods

bread rolls, pretzels (hard or soft – don’t forget the mustard!), matzo, Norwegian flatbread (RyeKrisp), breadsticks, rye bread, oatmeal bread, pita bread, focaccia (bread with cheese and fresh herbs baked on top), shortbread


sparkling non-alcoholic fruit ciders, root beer (a stretch, but not too far off), almond milk (available in aseptic containers), lemonade, apple juice, grape juice, small beer (O’Doul’s or some other low/non-alcoholic brew), herb teas (peppermint is very refreshing)

Simple to Make At Home

And what if you want to try making something, but want it to be recognizable to everyone, easy to make, and able to be documented as period?

Here are just a few simple ideas:


apple pie, fruit tarts

French toast, use cinnamon sugar, saffron-infused rosewater, sweetened wine/orange juice sauce, or even honey rather than maple syrup

macaroni and cheese (baked, not as a salad, no macaroni salad)

hard boiled eggs, stuffed eggs – use soft cheese and mustard rather than mayo and pickle relish

pickled mushrooms

an herb quiche/ omelet

fresh peas sautéed with a bit of bacon

meatloaf (without the oatmeal…use bread crumbs and flavor with fresh herbs)

meat pies/tarts

stewed mushrooms and leeks in broth

French onion soup

pea soup

beef stew with carrots and turnips

Chicken roasted with herbs and garlic – I make what I call˜Scarborough Chicken” with  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic!


Feel free to publish all or part of this list on your e-groups or in your local newsletter.  The more information we can get out to the populace, the better the end results will be at the feast!

Historic Period Foods
Viking Watermelon Longship

Bon appetite!
Mistress Christianna MacGrain, OP, OL
Barony of the South Downs, Meridies

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