Certain TV shows make you hungry just watching them, whether you’re witnessing some celebrity chef’s latest gourmet treat, guiltily drooling over a cannibalistic serial killer’s culinary work of art or simply eyeballing the outsized feast laid out for a clan of starving warriors.
Food plays a major role in Vikings, where every meal could be your last (well, before you hit Valhalla, anyway).
To start, I’ll have the flaming pig head…
When hosting Viking royalty, start things off with something light. This might seem like an easy dish to prepare, but apparently the first steps here are to remove the brain before spit-roasting the head until the various fluids pouring from its eye sockets, nostrils and ears run dry.
After that, it’s all about ensuring the head is sufficiently stocked with tasty stuffing and surrounded by exotic fruits.
If it moves, they’ll eat it
You’re not going to find a great many vegans among these people, especially since the long winters were often harsh and growing fresh produce was tricky. Chicken, lamb, reindeer, elk and horse – they’re all going to the feasting table to be grabbed by hand, ripped up and stuffed into hungry mouths, juices dripping down beards. In a world without refrigerators, meats are mostly smoked, roasted and boiled into big stews called skause – and eaten with hunks of sourdough bread enriched with buttermilk.
Okay, okay. They also eat fruit and veggies. Sometimes.
It isn’t all meat – fruit and vegetables play a big part in the Nordic world. Viking farmers grow beans and peas, along with wild types of apples and berries. And they also invented sauerkraut!
As Jessalyn Gilsig (who played Siggy in series 1-3) reveals, filming a big, meaty feast scene can be just as tough as filming a fight scene. “It’s really tricky to eat on camera,” she says. “I usually go for the vegetables. They don’t give us napkins or forks and it can be hard at eight in the morning to chow down on lamb!”
They seafood and they eat it
Being seafaring warriors, the cold waters off Denmark and Norway aren’t just a great way to access new lands, but also prime fishing spots. In season, there is a huge range of fish to be had. From Atlantic salmon and their tasty roe, to shellfish and tonnes of herring, Vikings cook and keep their ocean bounty in a variety of ways – from salting and drying to smoking and pickling.
They wash it all down with gallons of mead and ale
What would a Viking meal be without booze? These hardy northerners generally prefer mead, a fermented drink made easily from honey – but they’ll also settle for buttermilk and ale. Made from fermented grains, ale’s meant to be drunk on a daily basis, even by kids. And true to legend, they often drink from elaborately carved horns and drinking vessels.