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    Eat Like a Viking! Nordic Warrior Diet Craze Scours Scandinavia

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    The common image of Vikings as stalwart Nordic warriors leads one to envision bearded savage men ripping semi-raw pieces of meat with their bare teeth and lifting stone mugs of muddy ale. However, early Scandinavians had a rather advanced diet, which may become the next gastronomical fashion in a great comeback.

    While game was indeed devoured in large quantities by the ragged warriors of the North after all their exploits, the Vikings enjoyed a very diverse diet, which may make a stand against other culinary fads of today, such as the trendy "paleo diet." Remarkably, the Vikings enjoyed even imported delicacies such as peaches.

    Bar feasts, when hungry-for-life Nordic pirates consumed everything they could grab, climaxing in the consumption of sacrificial boars. Everyday Viking fare consisted of a range of foods that would easily put the nutrition maniacs of today to shame. Vikings were not averse to eating large quantities of vegetables or enjoying yoghurt-like fermented cheese still found on Iceland and sometimes marketed abroad. Overall, dairy products made a frequent appearance in the Viking diet, since the mighty warriors turned into adroit farmers that persevered in the harsh Nordic conditions.

    ​According to the Ribe Viking Center in Denmark, a reconstructed settlement enticing visitors with prospects of total immersion in the Viking culture, including clothing, lifestyle and nourishment, the Vikings had a wide range of food and wild herbs to pick from. Additionally, excavations revealed the surprising presence of "imported" products such as cinnamon.

    Most of the food was cooked over an open fire or a hearth, and Viking staples included salted herring, barley porridge and boiled sheep heads, enhanced with flat rye bread. During a voyage, though, dried and salty stockfish were a key source of protein for the sturdy crew. Geography played its part in the regional variety as well. For instance, seals were consumed in Greenland.

    Long before supermarkets, a Viking's daily menu was also heavily influenced by seasons. During the summer, meals were much more diverse and included a variety of berries, such as apples, plums, cherries, currants, raspberries, as well as root crops, greens and beans, according to the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, Norway. While your ordinary Viking dish was not particularly sophisticated, it was by no means bland. Typical flavor-enhancing ingredients included onion, garlic, coriander and dill, all of which still play an important role in Nordic cuisine. On the other hand, though, the Vikings were familiar with walnut oil, with which they became familiar during their outings to southern Europe.

    For instance, this is a barley porridge recipe courtesy of the Foteviken Museum, which is "living history" open-air Viking settlement in southern Sweden.

    3-4 dl coarse barley flour
    1 liter of water
    2 apples

    Boil water and stir the flour gradually. Keep boiling for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chopped apples, and let the broth infuse for up to 1 hour.

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    food, nutrition, diet, vikings, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Scandinavia
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