EMBARGOED UNTIL 9/26. -- Researchers in Great Britain have come up with the island’s 10 oldest recipes — going back 8,000 years — and some of them bear a striking resemblance to modern cuisine.
Researchers in Great Britain have come up with the island’s 10 oldest recipes — going back 8,000 years — and some of them bear a striking resemblance to modern cuisine.
The study, commissioned by British network UKTV Food to launch the start of a series called “The People’s Cookbook,” was conducted by the Centre for Food Science & Technology at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff.
And it found that one of the ancient dishes that we still eat today is the simple pancake.
Pancakes first appeared on the world’s breakfast buffet after the Romans discovered how to use beaten eggs in cakes and breads, according to London’s The Independent newspaper.
The cooked cakes typically were made with whole-wheat flour and duck eggs. But because eggs would not have been available year-round, pancakes in Very Old England probably were a seasonal delicacy, enjoyed during spring when birds laid their eggs. It’s likely that’s how pancakes became associated with lent and Easter.
Thick soup, or pottage, is another Neolithic dish similar to what we eat today.
According to university researchers, a stock would have been made with meat or leftover bones, plus vegetables such as cabbage, onions, turnips and carrots. Porridge oats were added to give it heft.
Roasted hedgehog was another popular entrée in B.C. Britain. The spiny mammal often was wrapped in pastry and baked, much as beef Wellington is prepared today.
New Stone Age citizens also experienced the delightful effects of beer — in bread, that is. Barley bread was a common starch, and it often was lightened with beer.
But not all of the recipes on the top 10 list — derived after two months of studying ancient culinary records — would be welcome on today’s dinner plates.
Researchers declared the oldest recorded U.K. recipe to be nettle pudding, a mix of stinging nettle leaves, water and flour. The dough was tied in cloth and added to a boiling pot of venison or wild boar. The recipe dates to 6,000 B.C.
Another moldy oldie was smoky fish stew. In ancient waste pits of Northern Europe, researchers found remains of eel, carp, pike, perch, trout, salmon, plaice, bass, mullet, cod and spurdog.
Other archaic dishes were boiled sea mussels; meat pudding; patina of elderberries (a pastry made with berries, eggs and wine); and liquamen and garum (fish sauces).
The TV series examines how recipes that have been passed down through the generations have evolved into dishes popular in Great Britain today.
Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at email@example.com.