What did the workers at the fortress eat?
Many of those who worked in the area probably got to smell the ginger, cloves and cinnamon that emanated from the castle lord’s kitchen from time to time. But for most people, the expensive spices were far too exclusive.
The food the working farmers brought with them to cope with their day on the construction site was usually based on bread and cereals, but could also contained vegetables such as cabbage, onions, peas and beans. They also ate fish and meat, although the meat was seldom fresh, rather salted or dried.
Shard of a so-called Bartmann mug found at the fortress. During the 16th and 17th centuries in particular, mugs and jugs decorated with bearded men’s faces were common. We do not know what this jug once contained. Maybe wine or beer?
Finds made during excavations at the fortress give us some clues to what was eaten at the site. Bones from cattle, sheep and lambs, chickens, geese and pigs are common. More rare are finds of bones from whooper swans, game and the newfangled turkey, all of which are thought to be remnants of meals eaten by the nobility. Lots of fish bones have also been excavated.
The fortress’ fish soup
During excavations at the fortress, many fish bones have been found and from them we can see which fish species were eaten here in the early 17th century.
Here is a recipe for fish soup, taken from “Een lijten Kockebook” from 1650. The language has been modernised and the bream in the original recipe has been replaced with fish varieties found at the fortress.
Fish (herring, salmon, haddock, whiting, burbot, cod, ling, plaice)
Let the fresh fish simmer whole in salted water and take it out whole. Take some of the broth that the fish has boiled in and add the onion, parsley and thyme, a little German sage, a large knob of butter, ginger, currants and a little vinegar, and let it simmer. Pour the soup over the fish. Sprinkle salt and ginger over the dish and the fish.