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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Minnette Meador

***** This is part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Gladiator
. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Gift
Certificate at the end of the tour in addition to the weekly prize.
Follow the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions. *****

One of the best things about Rome in ancient times was the food and drink they brought with them from the rich valleys and potent soil of Italy…


Watching the fire, Phaedra’s eyes became heavy, and she must have dozed off because the next thing she knew Bahar was touching her shoulder. She woke up to stare at Adrastos sitting across the fire from her.
Bahar handed her a wooden bowl filled with such amazing aromas she had to breath deep. Taking a spoonful, she touched it carefully to her tongue. A rich savory explosion went off in her mouth. Nothing had ever tasted so good. She lifted her eyes to the Greek who was smiling.
“It is one thing I do very well,” he bellowed light heartedly lifting an index finger. “A lifetime living out of doors and an intimate knowledge of herbs have taught me much about cooking.” The Gladiator Prince, Chapter XIII

Interestingly enough, the Celts had a very limited diet which included staples of wheat (bread), mutton (sheep), wild apples (crabapples), and what few herbs they could find in the woods. The Romans didn’t so much conquer the British Celts as feed them. That’s right; the scattered kings of Brettaniai Albion of the time negotiated peacefully with the conquering nation for amphorae of good wine, fresh vegetables, sweet fruit, and exotic herbs.

Our hero Thane would have been one of the more elite of the Celtic tribes; he was nephew to a very powerful king from the Trinovantes, living with his uncle and cousins. He would have hunted for his meat; wild boar, deer, and bear, but the Celts considered it sacrilegious to kill and eat hares or chicken. Fruits and vegetables would have been very rare (tubers mostly, berries, crab apples) and their herbs consisted of Nettle, Elder, Plantain, Yarrow, none of them exactly culinary worthy. The Romans, in addition to wine brought over garlic, onions, leeks (which is now a British national symbol), Rosemary, Thyme, Bay, Basil, and Savory Mint. In addition they introduced cheeses in huge varieties (Celts used goat cheese almost exclusively), chestnuts, walnuts, real apples, grapes, mulberries, cherries, eggs, and tons of vegetables the Brits had never seen or tasted.

Thane’s meal as a gladiator would have been pretty comparable to a Roman soldier’s diet; light meals of bread with cheese or no morning meal except water. A lunch could consist of a thick porridge of grain and cut up fruit, a drink made of wine, water and herbs called calda, and dried bacon or boiled meat from the night before. The evening meal might consist of fish, vegetables, more bread and mulsum (a honeyed wine). Gladiators, like soldiers, were fed very well and they needed it; both groups of men drilled and worked 12-16 hours every day including weekends.

Small wonder these were probably the fittest men in history. They were treated well, well fed, and lived twenty years longer than most of their contemporaries. Unless a gladius caught them unawares on the sand or a screaming Celt skewered them with a spear during battle. Then… not so much… :o)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Somewhere between thirty and hair, blue eyes...six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time... wanttabe hippy... wanttheirmoney musician and actress for 20 Years... native Oregonian... lover of music, beauty, and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, having replaced the children with one dog. The dog, Pierre, pretty much runs the show.


marybelle said...

Loved this post, as I love my history. "The Romans didn’t so much conquer the British Celts as feed them." - this will stay with me.


Minnette Meador said...

Thanks, Marybelle!

Good morning everyone! ~sips coffee~ Thanks for coming over and sharing a bit of trivia... Don't forget to leave a comment and if you have questions, please feel free. You know me... I LOVE to talk history. :o)

brigitte said...

minnette good morning i have a question about history how much should you follow the time line in history. is it so important. i am writing or trying to write about peter the great and i am using some of the time lines that i have read about but some of it is fuzzy. cN YOU FUDGE ON SOME OF IT.. brigitte

Chrisbails said...

Great post. i love to learn new history about stuff that I never thought I would learn about. Minnette is a new author for me and will be checking out your books.
My question for you is What made you decide to write about Gladitors & their history & era? Also if you could write any other genre what would you write?
Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

Amber said...

Great Post I love to learn about history, expecally Roman History.

Gabby said...

Very intriguing post! I'm into history but I never had a class where Roman history was a requirement, I definitely wouldn't mind learning more about the Romans!

Diane Craver said...

I enjoyed your post, Minnette!

And we have something in common. I also have 6 kids. :)

Anna said...

Excellent. I had no idea they lived longer, well some of them, than the average Roman. Thanks!

doxisrcool at aol dot com

shadow_kohler said...

good morning! how are you today? another great post! lots of interesting things. :) you love history, what time period is your favorite?

Christiana said...

It's interesting seeing the different foods that were brought over and are now common to Britain. It's interesting to consider how the Celts cooked before, especially as I love cooking with herbs.


Bama said...

afternoon! :) cool post:D

Sheila Deeth said...

I had a friend at college who had somehow acquired a Roman cook book. She made some really delightful meals, though my clearest memory of them now is the scent of honey.

Na said...

What I find so fascinating is how some of these foods have survived the centuries. Where so many animals have gone extinct, where some of succumed to natural disasters and man-made ones, these foods are still around today. It is really some food for though and I will think of this everytime I eat an orange, an apple or chicken. I also imagine how delicious the food must have tasted being so fresh, and free of chemicals, artificial flavours and freezer burn of all things. This is such a thought-provoking post, thank you!

wanda f said...

Great post I love history .I find it realy interseting that men of that time drilled and worked 12-16 hours every day including weekends.Men today are alot softer lol

Minnette Meador said...

Hey, guys! Thanks so much for coming over today...

Briditte: I try not to fudge too much; there are readers out there that really know their history. Having said that, the story and your characters are yours to do with as you will. Something I've really learned over the years is that the real history is almost ALWAYS more exciting that anything I can make up. I try to blend in reality with the fantasy as much as I can.

Hi, Chrisbails! Great questions. My first historical book, The Centurion & The Queen was from a very interesting time in history and not too many people write about, which is a pity. The gladiators came in the second book in the series, The Edge of Honor, since our hero is taken by Rome and turned into a gladiator. The rest just kind of wrote itself. I write in many genres now and love it. Paranormal, urban fantasy thrillers, comedy, epic fantasy and next year sci-fi. I've always wanted to try my hand at mystery and I might soon.

Thanks for coming over, Amber!

Hi, Gabby - I taught myself most of the Roman history I know now. Over the years I've been sort of a "closet" historian. I love it. I wish I had time to really study it in depth, but I do a lot of research for these books.

Thanks, Diane!

Hi, Anna - Soldiers and gladiator were very well taken care of; they were expensive commodities. The Romans did know about food and their diets were excellent, especially the soldiers. Plus, they worked out 8-12 hours every day.

Hi, Shadow! I'm doing well. I love this period, obviously, but I think my favorite would have to be during WWII. It was one of the most interesting times in the world, I think.

Hi, Christiana - It is amazing what foods were spread by the Romans. What's even more interesting what food were imported from South America and China later. Don't get me started...

Hey, Bama!

Honey was big in ancient Rome, Sheila. Keep in mind they did not have refined sugar at all... that came about around 500AD to China, then not until around the 1400's to the rest of the world. I found a cookbook of ancient Roman food, but don't know if anyone has been able to duplicate the fish sauce they used on everything.

Thanks, Na... Keep in mind, however, they had no way of keeping food... Ice was unheard of except on mountains in this time. The Roman jerked or smoke meat, made hard bread (we call is tack, not sure about spelling), dried fruit and wine mixed with olive oil and herbs. I would imagine they had pretty tough stomachs!

You are so right, Wanda! I worked with a master martial artist who was an expert in Roman fighting styles. He choreographed the battle scenes for my books. He said that even though his guys were all special forces black belts, the toughest men in the country, they were... well, I won't use his words... they were a lot weaker compared to Roman soldiers. ~sigh~

Nichole said...

History is amazing!! So many stories waiting to be written, its great that you are able to be the one to write them!

Can't wait to get even more into the story


DC Juris said...

Sacrilegious to kill a chicken, eh? But it's so tasty! LOL Great post! :-)

Stacie said...

Now I have an image of Thane hunting and sweaty and...hunting. *fans self* Yeah, okay, I may have to read this book again.

Minnette Meador said...

Thanks, Nicole... Can't wait for you to read it! :o)

Too funny, DC! What's really funny is that the Roman's disavowed them of that opinion... they ate a lot of chicken after the Romans moved in. :o)

LOL, Stacie... Actually him doing ANYTHING is worth a second look!

Leanne109 said...

Such boring meals BLAH! lol Sorry I am so late commenting, has been a hectic day but I finally made it in. Great post as always :)

Hugs Leanne

Minnette Meador said...

Thanks, Leanne! I know what you mean... we were swamped today. So glad you made it over. :o)

Julee J. Adams said...

Excellent! I had a few years of Latin in grade school and high school, so I learned to love that history.

My father-in-law buys clumps of old coins that have been dug up in Europe (mostly England), where the Roman and Greek soldiers buried them and, um, didn't come back to collect them. He cleans them and sells them individually and it's fascinating.

Thanks for sharing! juleejadams (at)gmail (dot) com

Toni said...

Minnette - you just continue to boggle the mind. You must have done an amazing amount of research. As I get older history does interest me more. Thank you for sharing this little tidbit.

Minnette Meador said...

Hi, Julee! I saw one of those on Pawn Stars and it was worth a ton! I've gotten some replicas, but it would be amazing to own an original.

My pleasure, Toni. I'm glad you could come over!

Now, for the winner of yesterday's prize. The Celtic necklace goes to...


Congrats, lady! If you will drop me an email at mmeador at minnettemeador dot com, I'll get it sent off to you.

See you guys at the next stop! Minnette :o)