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Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank

History buffs, historical writers, lovers of the arcane: You must buy What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank and add it to your library.

I suppose Krista Ball asked to appear on this blog because she's a glutton for punishment. Or maybe she figured since enough of you like my homesteading posts, you might get a kick out of hearing about a whole book dedicated to old timey ways of doing things.

Unlike the poor unfortunate woman in her example below, I have running water (and sweet-smelling soap) which keeps me from reeking of smoke, animal guts, or manure--unless you catch me at the wrong part of the day.

Short of spending the day with me on the homestead, you can stay clean (and smell better too) by reading this book.

Here's Krista now to save you from getting your education the hard way. And if there are any diehards left after you read this, you can still visit me. I'm sure I can find a shovel that will fit your hands. :grin:


Regency romance novels typically feature a wealthy man and a middle-class woman. It can be easy to forget about the people who scrubbed Mr. Darcy's chamberpot or washed Geogiana Cavendish's stockings. Those aren't glamourous people; they have coarse skin and are ruddy from spending too much time in the sun. They smell like coal soot and latrines. But how on earth could a young widow with four kids under six years old make ends meet?

Assuming she did not want to engage in prostitution, which many poor women - married or single - ended up doing on a part-time basis, she could work as a wet nurse if she still had milk. Plenty of women would need to leave behind their children to go to the factories, fields, and kitchens; the wee ones needed a nurse. She would make a few pennies doing the job and, if she was sober, careful, and good with sickness, she might even get work assisting invalids, elderly people, and convalescing individuals whose families can afford a full-time nurse.

If she's living in a city, she might not even own a stove. If she's living in a cramped one bedroom apartment with her children, she might not have the money to have wood or coal for the hearth to cook. Never mind the long cooking times. She'd made use of the hundreds of fast food joints on the streets, where she could buy boiled eggs at a penny a piece or a cup of coffee or chocolate before rushing off to a job, little ones in tow. 

If our poor unfortunate woman has a day off on Sunday, perhaps she might stop by the used meat store to pick up a ham bone. She might not be able to afford the fresh cuts, or even the salt and pickled cuts, but she might be able to pick up the "wash" from a rich house or maybe even an gentlemen's club. The bone would have been cooked a couple of times at the club before it was sold to a shop owner to sell. Hopefully it would have a small amount of meat left on it and hadn't been chewed on by a dog at some point.

Butter, especially fresh from the farm, might also be beyond her reach. She could make due picking up a pound of salt pork fat instead. The pork could be fried up and used in various meals for fat and flavour, while the drippings could be saved in a jar. When her children needed a snack, they could have a slice of bread smeared with animal fat.

It’s hard to imagine anyone paying money for trice-boiled bones. However, when faced with absolute poverty, people will do just about anything to survive.

KristaD. Ball primarily writes gritty science fiction and grittier fantasy. However, on occasion, she’s been known to belt out a comedy or two. She’s decided to put her history background to use in her latest book, WHAT KINGS ATE AND WIZARDS DRANK. 

At Amazon
More sale sites to come

From the publisher's site

Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.

Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.

What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes.


E.J. Wesley said...

Who hasn't "snacked" on bread dipped in animal lard? A tasty treat for the entire family! :-D

Krista D. Ball said...

I find the bread dipped in salt pork fat needs molasses to help balance it out :D

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: molasses?
I'm not sure I'd go there. LOL. But I've never been a big fan of molasses.

With apologies to my vegan friends (and friends of pigs), there is nothing better than fresh cracklins.

We've raised a couple of pigs for the table. There is no comparison to store-bought.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's easier to write they just shot a game hen and put it on a spit and ate a short time later. Never mind it would be burnt on the outside and rare inside. Sounds like a book writers should have on their shelves.

L.G.Smith said...

Wonderful book idea. I actually find info like this helpful for the post-apocalyptic stuff I write, since I have a sort of primitive, powerless future in my stories. Will have to check it out.

Krista D. Ball said...

Maria - molasses is where it's at. Then again, I grew up in NL! (I actually talk about why molasses is so huge in a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic...fascinating how the slave trade affected food).

I buy a pig every year and I can't eat store bought, tortured animals anymore. It doesn't taste the same, plus I know how the store-bought ones live...compared to the one that's in my freezer.

Susan - Historicals sometimes forget that shooting a bird in some places was illegal. Oops.

L.G. - Yup, post-apocalyptic is fun. What happens when the zombies chew the electrical cables and the power's out? LOL

Angela Brown said...

This sounds like an excellent resource for fantasy and sci-fi as well, especially those wishing to engage in writing a post-apocalyptic novel with a truer-to-life grit.

Krista D. Ball said...

Thanks, Angela. I worked really hard to make it usable for writers, but also entertaining for everyday readers who just want to enjoy some history and silly stories by me :)

Jenny Schwartz said...

Fascinating. That whole street food culture intrigues me.

Krista D. Ball said...

Jenny - street food history is really interesting. I didn't realize how old "fast food" really was until I started researching this books. I suppose it makes sense, though. Urban people have always needed quick access to cheap food ;)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh, I find this kind of history background kind of stuff SO interesting!

Krista D. Ball said...

Jennifer - 100% agree! I think kids would find history and social studies so much more interesting in school if more time was spent talking about how people lived.

Mike Keyton said...

Getting back to the important stuff...'bread dipped in lard' - You're missing a trick. Toast and dripping is the thing! You want it healthy - just spread the cold meat jelly and watch it melt into the hot toast - sprinkle on salt. For those hardline 'fat-heads'spread with some of the lard and enjoy the combined melt. I think it's the only reason I roast meat. Working class Liverpool lad

Cate Masters said...

This book's been on my TBR list for awhile. :) What a fun way to learn about the past. Congrats Krista!

Krista D. Ball said...

I gotta disagree with Mike. I like it the other way around ;) Oh no! Fight! Fight!

Mike Keyton said...

Toast at Dawn, Krista!

Krista D. Ball said...


Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Thanks for the tip, Maria. This sounds like an excellent resource.

Maria Zannini said...

Jim: I think it's a fabulous idea. I'm surprised no one thought of it before.