Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Poached Eggs with Pease Pudding

This dish could have been prepared and enjoyed in the neolithic in northern Europe. They had peas, herbs, probably some form of fermented condiment, sea salt, butter, milk, cream, and perhaps some form of yoghurt. And they had eggs. 

Preparation would have been different (which I will describe later), but the result would have been very similar. 

I blended about thirty pods of peas, along with a couple of pinches of dried tarragon, decanted the blended mixture into a small pan. I added a small pinch of sea salt, and about half a teaspoonful of Asian Nam Pla fish sauce, which is the sort of condiment which they may have had, similar to Roman garum. Cooked at a low heat with a knob of butter and two teaspoonfuls of yoghurt (or fresh cream) stirred in,  for ten minutes under glass, stirring occasionally.  Peas when pulverised take up more water than they do when intact, as I discovered while cutting spelt flour and pea flour together to make bread. So do not be afraid to add a little water to the mix. 

The poached eggs were lowered into a lidded pan of boiling water in silicon poachers, and cooked for four minutes with the hob turned way down, so that the yolks were still runny in the centre. 

Tempting to eat with pepper, but they probably (and almost certainly) had no access to pepper in the Neolithic in northern Europe. 

Poached Eggs with Pease Pudding

Cooking in the European neolithic was often a communal affair, with many different items being cooked in cloth bags or other metal or ceramic vessels lowered into a boiling cauldron. So, the peas may have gone into a cauldron whole, in a cloth bag, until they lost their integrity. They would then be further mashed before serving and other possible ingredients of a tasty pease pudding added (such as the butter, cream, and the condiments). Boiled eggs they would certainly have eaten, but hard to say about poaching them. The end result is very similar, though the shape of the poached egg is different because it has been shelled first.

Pease pudding was probably used in much the same way as we use potatoes or rice - as the staple to accompany the main part of the dish, such as fish, pork, beef, lamb, chicken, etc. 

This is a delicious and subtly flavoured dish which takes very little time to make, and gives the lie to the idea that food in the neolithic was generally a bad experience.  

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