Monday, March 04, 2013

A Laplander’s Wedding Feast.

I don’t believe I have ever given you a story about Lapland before, but thanks to Carl von Linné, the  Swedish botanist, I can now do that. Linné received a grant from the Royal Society of Uppsala, to travel to Lapland in 1732 and record as much of the plant and animal life as possible, there being very little record of them. He also recorded some of the human cultural activities along the way.

In the following extract from A Tour to Lapland, Linné describes some of the features of the wedding arrangements and food at a Lapland wedding.

When such pecuniary matters are finally arranged, the father and mother of the bridegroom present him and his bride with a cup of brandy, … the parents of the bridegroom next partake of some brandy, and the whole stock of that liquor which they had brought with them is fetched for the company.

All the relations of the bridegroom then come forward with their provisions, which generally consist of several cheeses, and a piece of meat dried and salted. The latter is roasted before the fire, while the company is, in the meanwhile, regaled with some of the solid preparations of milk, the bride and bridegroom eating by themselves, apart from the rest.

Two stewards are next chosen, one of them from the bride's party, the other from that of the bridegroom. The last-mentioned party are then required to furnish a quantity of raw meat, amounting to about a pound  and half to each person. This the stewards immediately set about boiling, and their duty moreover is to serve it round to all present.
This meat is dressed in several separate pots, two only in each hut, if there be any neighbours whose huts can serve to accommodate the party on this occasion; for each Laplander has never more than one hut of his own. The fat part of the broth is first served up in basons. Afterwards ariovus petticoats or blankets, of walmal cloth, are spread on the floor, by way of a table-cloth, on which the boiled meat is placed. The chief persons of the company then, as many as can find room, take their places in the hut of the bride's family, sitting down round the provision, while the children and inferiors are accommodated in the neighbouring huts. Grace is then said. The bride and bridegroom are placed near together, for the most part close to the door, or place of entrance. They are always helped to the best of the provision. The company then serve themselves, taking their meat on the points of their knives, and dipping each morsel into some of the fat broth, in which the whole has been boiled, before they put it into their mouths. Numbers of people assemble from the neighbourhood, to look in upon the company through the door; and as they expect to share in the feast, the stewards give them two or three bits of meat, according as they respect them more or less. What remains after everybody is satisfied, is put together, and wrapped up in the blankets or cloths, that part of it which is left by the new-married couple being kept separate from the rest, as no other person is allowed to partake of their share. The dinner being over, the whole company shake hands and return thanks for their entertainment. They always shake hands with the bride and bridegroom in the first place, and then with the rest, saying at the same time kusslănAfter taking some brandy, the whole party go to bed.

Reindeer, which is brought into the States from Alaska, is not an uncommon meat in the West. It should be hung at least two weeks before being cooked, otherwise it will be very tough. The meat is very good, and easily prepared. Salt and pepper the chops, roll in salad oil, and broil; or fry in frying pan, in the same manner as any other kind of chop or steak. Serve with Maître d’Hôtel or some other fancy meat sauce.
Sunset All-Western Cook Book, 1933


rowanberrywine said...

This sounds significantly better than the Antarctic cuisine I have been reading about recently. Is this Linne's only discussion of food?

Piet B said...

Mr. von Linne made a slight error in talking about the service of the feast. The fabric is called "wadmal". It's undyed wool, heavy, in simple twill or plain weave, and was the basic clothing fabric of the peasantry and serfs in the Scandinavian countries. As a platform for food, it was probably spun and woven in the grease so it would have a certain amount of resistance to liquids and the fats in the food, and still be washable.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi rowanberry wine - no, he did include some other general notes on Laplander food: watch out for another post on it (maybe even tomorrow)

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Piet - it might have been a translation error too - An eighteenth century Swede in Lapland, and his notes translated into English in the early nineteenth century (I think this is when it was done.) The idea of a naturally waterproofed wool is marvellous.