A Dwarven dinner

“I thought it was only a kind of cram, such as the Dale-man make for journeys in the wild,” said the Dwarf.
“So it is,” they answered. “But we call it lembas or waybread, and it is more strengthening than any food made by Men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts.”
“Indeed it is,” said Gimli. “Why, it is better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings, and that is great praise, for the Beornings are the best bakers that I know of.”

While The Lord of the Rings tells us little about elven food, it tells us nothing at all about what dwarves eat, Gimli’s approval of elven lembas and the Beornings’ honey-cakes notwithstanding. So for this months dinner I had to completely fly blind, trying to imagine the kind of meal that the Fellowship might have enjoyed in Moria had they found the place still in the possession of Balin’s folk.

To begin with, it seems likely that dwarves would have enjoyed little in the way of fresh food, so much of what they ate must have been preserved and able to keep for a long time. There are many ways of preserving food– drying, salting, smoking, pickling, canning, and so on. In the old days the dwarves of Moria used to trade with the elves of Hollin, so the produce of the world above ground could have reached them. Putting these thoughts together, I came up with a menu for a dwarven dinner.

Mushroom soup, good for underground dwellers

We started with mushroom soup, followed by homemade sausages and pickled vegetables. We had rosemary crispbread to accompany this. For dessert we had honey-nut cakes.

Crispbread and honey-nut cakes on the left, sausage with pickled vegetables on the right

I made the sausage using a piece of local pork. I ground the meat and mixed it with fresh thyme and sage, plus salt and a little black pepper. I did not use any casings but just shaped the ground meat and froze it overnight. The sausages held their shape well when I sliced and cooked them the next day, although they tended to dry out while cooking. The pickled vegetables (beets, cucumbers, and asparagus) came from a local farm. The crispbreads were very easy to make and I will probably make them again just for snacking. The honey-nut cake recipe actually comes from an ancient Greek source and I have made it very successfully before.

A dinner for Durin’s folk

The combination of flavors was a little unusual, but pleasant. The sausages were quite mild compared to the sharpness of the pickled vegetables and the crunchy crispbread added a very different texture. The mushroom soup had a sweet note to it. The meal was a combination of very different flavors and textures that all together seemed to work.

Previous Lord of the Rings dinners:

January: A long-expected party

February: Farewell to Hobbiton / March: Supper at the Prancing Pony

April: A rangers’ dinner in the wild

May: At Elrond’s table

 

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