Warm, carefree days put me in a good mood. It's time for picnics and days at the beach or wiling away your time on a river or lake.
I believe to know the soul of a people, look at their creative efforts in art and music. If you want to know the substance of their story, look at their food.
Food tells us what people valued, how they connected with the land, it reveals social structures, rhythms of daily life, and yes, even romance.
We mix food and romance together: the classic "dinner and a movie" date, pairing aphrodisiacs champagne and strawberries, and the romantic picnic basket. If I remove the obvious chocolate, what else comes to mind when you think food and romance?
Wine? Cheese? Bread?
In researching Viking foods from seven archaeological sites, I've discovered the romantic side of Vikings. Yes, romance and Vikings in the same sentence.
Consider these 3 snapshots of Viking food history:
Mead is a form of wine made from one of nature's sweetest products: honey. Vikings brewed mead with different flavorings, among them rose hips. You might be surprised to discover rose hips were found in Denmark's Lejre Viking site. It's believed rose hips were used in mead-making for a nice aroma.
Does picturing a Viking drinking his flower-flavored wine make you smile?
I can see it now - a brawny warrior luring a fair Viking maiden with rose hip laced mead.
What else goes with wine but cheese? In Viking lore, there's a tale of raiders attacking a village in Spain. This time, the locals beat back the northern warriors, forcing the Vikings to take refuge on an island in the middle of a river. Being ever resourceful, the Vikings decided to set aside their weapons and make cheese.
I have no doubt this peace-loving, cheese-making venture won the hearts of Spanish maidens when paired with mead. Interestingly, that region is still known for its particular hard cheese recipe brought in by these astonishing Vikings.
If crackers (or French Bread) are staples of modern day romantic picnics, bread was no different for Vikings. Most people think of Viking bread as flat, hearty fare pan-cooked over an open fire. It's true for many Viking longhouses. But, in Lejre, archaeologists found ovens used for bread baking. Think of lavish tables set with warm, freshly baked breads and newly churned butter. Mouth-watering, isn't it? So is Viking romance.
Check out my summer food adventure How to Eat Like a Viking blog series for the truth about Vikings and their way of life. You might be surprised.
If you're interested in Viking romance, here's an exclusive excerpt of my upcoming book To Find a Viking Treasure.
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Icy water drenched her, the cold droplets prickling tender skin. Blood flowed like hot honey through her sluggish limbs. She slipped one hand under Brandr’s muddy tunic, and hard male flesh pebbled against her fingertips.
Brandr broke the kiss, his breath hitching sharply. His mouth hovered over hers as if the enthralling inch between their lips fed a deep need.
He didn’t move, save his shaky grip on her arm. “Your hand...”
His firm flesh twitched under her palm.
Was the hard-souled warrior starved for touch?
Foreheads and noses brushed as she pushed his tunic up determined to have her way. They still stood in the waterfall's mist not caring that they mere steps from the cliff. Dirt smeared Brandr’s furrowed midline. Taking her time, she wiped it off and a weave of muscles and smooth skin clenched against her hand. Enveloped in darkness, her senses came alive, touching a ridged scar on his chest, smelling pine on his skin, the uneven cadence of his voice as he whispered her name against her lips.
She sought the curve of his ribs, sliding her hands to his back—
“Sestra. No.” Brandr jerked away, his voice ragged. He held her at arm’s length.
“Why…why’d you stop?”
It was all she could do to form the question. She still tasted him on her tongue when he let her go. The waterfall crashed behind her its blast matching the uproar inside her.
Brandr tugged down his tunic. “This isn’t safe.”
“Dead men don’t care that we’re kissing.”
He chuckled dryly and picked up his sword from the mud. “No,” he said, wiping the weapon clean before sheathing it across his back.“You're soaked. Those clothes of yours need to come off.”
“Most men say that come nightfall,” she teased. “The clothes coming off part.”
He went still. “I’m not most men.”
Wet black hair fell around his face, the jaggedly cut ends grazing his jaw. Though it was nightfall, she saw Brandr clearly. The rough-hewn Viking stood like a wild beast in a rare tame moment. His tarnished silver eyes pierced her, left her tongue-tied because she put him with other men who used thralls for their pleasure.
What stopped him?
Got any special summer foods you love? Please tell me in the comments below.
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