Saturday, January 23, 2010

Add Some Flavor To Your Gaming

I have mentioned in other posts that I like to use food in my games as a way to establish a sense of place and setting but I just uncovered another lost gem in my book collection that I had completely forgotten about. The book was originally picked up for use by my mother in catering my wedding and is entitled, "The Bors Hede Boke of Cookery: Food and Cooking in 14th & 15th Century England", written by Roger Shell and Sally Charles.

This quaint book is full of real, usable recipes as well as interesting history and facts that date from back to the days of old. The book is broken down into a number of very informative sections -

Foodes - the sorts of foods of the age.
Feelds & Gardeyns - a brief overview of the sorts of gardens found at the time and how they were used.
Kichenes - a look at the sorts of kitchens in use at the time.
Tooles & Artes - a section covering techniques and the tools used in them. Includes some nice illustrations.
Meals - a look at the meals eaten by people of the time.
Recipes - divided into several sections from drinks to soups and more involved goodness.

Even the recipes present the reader with little tidbits of anecdotal history. Each one is begun with a piece of instructive text from the period, followed by a translation into English. This is followed by the traditional list of ingredients and a more conventional recipe instruction. I can say that some of these seem very foreign and odd to my modern American pallet but as I mentioned before, the catering for my wedding came from this volume and I enjoyed every bit of what we ate that day (doesn't hurt that my own mother cooked it!).

The last section of the book is incredibly useful for those trying to weave this very functional book into their gaming as it is a full-on glossary of terms used in the period and throughout the text of the book itself. This is not a small collection of terms either and covers a full 82 pages of the book, itself. The book also includes a full index of general topics as well as an index of recipes.

If you wanted to try to add a bit of authenticity to your game world and offer your players with a listing of inn fair that they may never have heard of to make your world seem all the more exotic and believable. I don't know about you but it seems every inn in a lot of games features the same goods. Imagine your player's smiles when the inn now offers them egurdouce with daryols for dessert (that's actually sweet & sour lamb or rabbit followed by custard pie).

The terms included in the glossary can be used to spice up dungeon and map details by offering you period terms for various fixtures, devices and tools. You can give a more vivid description of village life be describing the rustic using pipkins, pottels and trefet vessels. Sure they are little details but it is things like this that can make an adventure seem more real.

I do hope you all enjoyed this little review.

Take care,



  1. I'm not much interested in RPG gaming any more, but I am still going to look for this book as it would be rather useful to add 'flavor' to the skirmish battles that I am trying to set up.

  2. You know, I like lamb and rabbit both. But... sweet and sour? In 14th - 15th century England?

    I'll pass.

    The custard pies sound good, though. As long as the milk and eggs were fresh.

    Man, I'm hungry now.

  3. Cool. I have borrowed The Medieval Kitchen cookbook several times from my local library. We don't used processed sugar in our house, so it's cool that all the recipes use honey (no cane / beet sugar back then). The honey almond crunch recipe is awesome.
    Back when the PC RPG Ultima VII came out your character could read books in various towns. I once made an apple cookie thing based on one of the recipes in the game's cookbooks. They were good!


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