Monday, June 4, 2012

Bronze Age cooking - no Tin Foil in sight

It was my first time at the Wexford Food Festival this year. Despite being so close, I hadn't managed to do it last year. I was particularly curious to see the Bronze Age cooking demonstration: after spending three years digging fulacht fiadh around the country in the many commercial archaeological digs of the Celtic Tiger times I was definitely keen to see - and taste! - how it all worked!

So this year, we managed to head down to the Irish National Heritage Park with a couple of friends and have a bite of Bronze Age cooking! The weather was gorgeous so that was a bonus! and while we managed to miss the first demonstration and had to wait for the second round we were happy to go around and have a look (yet again) at the park. It is a great spot to take visitors, it gives them a chance to get a quick history of Ireland in the space of just over an hour! some parts of the park need a bit of work, and some other parts that we managed to see last year were closed this time around. It makes the visits slightly annoying because you never get to see the whole thing, but I suppose it is worth the wait and once all repair work is done it will be a fantastic attraction.

Anyway, back to the fulacht fiadh or burnt mound, it consists of a trough dug into the ground where hot stones (heated over a fire) were thrown and meat was cooked for what archaeologists suppose were special or big occasions for Bronze Age people (1500-500 BC). Why they didn't save themselves the hassle and cook directly on the fire, we'll never know! The fulacht fiadhs would have been reused though, leaving plenty of burnt stones scattered around the area for archaeologists to dig.

There are tons of fulacht fiadh around Ireland (Wikipedia says 4,500!), they are a pain to dig because of the huge extension of burnt material and stones that can cover a pretty significant surface and depth. But after digging them, it was great to taste a bit of meat cooked in one!

One of the ladies in front of me wasn't too impressed with the bacon being wrapped in hay and chucked into the murky water so asked the fulacht fiadh 'chef' if they (as in Bronze Age people) would have used tin foil! someone must go back to history classes!

Bacon wasn't enough to fill us up so we headed into town to check out the food stalls for some tasty treats!

Here's some info on fulatch fiadhs

and a video from the Irish National Heritage Park