Sunday, 20 September 2015

Pease please Louise!

Dollshouse 12th scale miniature food, shelled peas by MedievalMorsels
Back in the summer, when modelling the broad bean, so-beloved of peasants in the Dark and Middle Ages, MedievalMorsels could not resist modelling some field peas too. Although, I must be truthful, they did send me a little mad.  Modelling individual shelled peas at 1/12th scale  is not for the faint hearted! Or short-sighted.
Tudor dollhouse food, one inch scale tub of peas

Medieval dollshouse kitchen, 1:12 half barrel of dried peas

 It was a sunny day so I repaired to the garden with all my "making" stuff. And some of my sister's stuff. She has been kind enough, ever since I first tarted making miniature food for the dollshouse, to lend or give me supplies and tools and more. But modelling outside, never again! 
Peas for a pease pottage, pease porridge or even pease pudding!
  However still and sunny a day seems, there is always an unexpected puff of wind. A real nuisance for miniaturists, whether they are attempting to photograph or model small items. They are apt to move! The wind took my featherlight, former fastfood container with painstakingly rolled peas and deposited them on the grass. If I bother to go outside to make miniatures again I'll weigh everything down with a brick. That should do the trick.

Store MedievalMorsels dried peas and beans in a ceramic crock pot!
 There are some toxic elements in the coloured polymer clays used by we "professionals", so the only upside to my mishap was that my peas were far too small for resident marauding wood pigeons to find and eat amongst the blades of grass. I don't fancy the worms' digestive chances though! 

We cannot underestimate the importance of dried peas, as well as broad (fava) beans, in Dark and Middle Ages diet of northern Europe. And England in particular! The grey field pea had tough, inedible husks and was grown to produce dried peas for  winter stores. The peas were luckily suitable for both human and animal consumption and, as a bonus after threshing, the vines and pods were used as cattle fodder.

More rarely, and wastefully, the field peas might be husked and split before cooking - giving the “split pea". But usually it was stored whole, and such dried peas provided the bulk of the Medieval peasant family’s essential winter food provisions. Along with some cured bacon from their slaughtered pig. Richer household put more expensive ingredients into their pottage pot, but  this would not prevent them from enjoying addition the staple pottage of peas and bacon.
 
12th scale dollhouse food, cauldron of pease pottage with bacon

  The ancient nursery rhyme “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days old” illustrates that peasant cottage and manor house were likely to have a pot (kettle, cauldron) of pease porridge/pottage "on the go" in winter. “Pease” was in fact the singular form of the old English word, later becoming abbreviated in modern language to “pea”.