Flavors of Ithilien

Hard Kit is all other accoutrements that are not clothing, weapons or armour. This includes pots and tents, and flint & steel, and other things like that.

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Greg
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Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Greg » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:43 pm

When Sam turns to Smeagol after his successful procurement of both rabbits and cooking-water in Ithilien and requests that he find some sage, thyme, and bay leaves, the collective camp-in-your-kit community heaved a deep sigh of relief and contentment. No, we most assuredly need not resign ourselves to flavorless trail fare.

I always found it interesting that plants so readily accessible in Ithilien would be so easily identifiable by a Hobbit from the Shire, but despite the mountain range, valleys, and mature forests that separate the regions, they are not really all that far apart geographically. For this reason, I find some comfort in knowing that a fairly high percentage of the useable personae one might pursue an impression of could make use of and carry these herbs and spices in particular.

For myself, I have elected a new and fairly compact means of transporting them from one cook fire to the next, and it's something you can do yourself without much needed experience/skill, and no rare or hard-to-acquire parts required. It all begins with a good old patch cannister, available in tin or copper, from Backwoods Tin & Copper. Mine happens to be tin, and only cost $11+shipping. The copper one is $13.50...both reasonable.

For the interior, I took some heavy vegetable tanned leather (Taurinor, this particular material came from the scraps of your portmanteau...heavy stuff). It doesn't have to be off the charts, but stiffness is important.

I cut three strips of the leather that were about an inch wide, and just over the length of the canister. Each of them received a rough bevel cut onto one edge with some scissors, which helps them mesh together. Slowly, then, a spiral of waxed linen thread attaches them and cinches them together tightly, forming the shape seen here. Once I made it all the way down, the piece was very stiff and I was able to trim each of the three strips, little by little, until it fit VERY tightly down into the canister. NO glue required; it's pretty hard to pull out now.

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You can see here that the stitches look a bit long, but that's so they clear the thickness of the beveled piece on the other side. They're pulled very tight, and the whole thing had nearly no flexibility.
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This one happens to fit nicely alongside a small tin full of pipe weed inside a linen drawstring bag...all of which fits inside my boiler. Just don't go without a bag, or you'll scratch your tin-lining.

Happy eating.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Straelbora » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:49 pm

Cool idea. More complex than I would suss out- I'd probably just take some cheesecloth and make little pouches to stuff inside.

And I've seen the great work from Backwoods Tin before, but never really looked to see where he is located, which is about a five minute drive out of the way if I'm going to visit my sister in Oshkosh, WI. I know where I'm stopping next time I head to WI!
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Greg » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:30 pm

Straelbora wrote:I'd probably just take some cheesecloth and make little pouches to stuff inside.
I've done the 'wads of cloth' deal for carrying various foodstuffs for years (alongside occasional shameful ziploc baggies! The nerve...) and I've just gotten sick of them occasionally opening up and leaving salt or leaves all over everything, etc. It works, though!
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Elleth » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:58 pm

Hunh... that's an interesting observation: I'd assumed that passage was in "narrative voice" and wouldn't necessarily indicate Sam knew what the plants were. On the other hand - cooking spices were among the first things to be widely traded in our world, and if *anyone* imported them in Middle-earth it would be the Shire. Neat! :)

Very cool use of the tin!
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Ursus » Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:52 pm

Very nice. Backwoods Tin and Copper strikes again!

Not gonna lie, while sitting at breakfast and glancing at the pictures before reading the text I first thought that the leather was cured thick cut bacon!
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Greg » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:02 pm

Elleth wrote:Hunh... that's an interesting observation: I'd assumed that passage was in "narrative voice" and wouldn't necessarily indicate Sam knew what the plants were.


We get both voices, actually:
J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; Book 4, Chapter IV: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit wrote:...and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes that grew in bushes, or with their woody creeping stems mantled in deep tapestries the hidden stones; sages of many kinds putting forth blue flowers, or red, or pale green; and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam.
That in itself, "beyond the lore of Sam", suggests to me that the plants listed before indicate things that he was recognizing was he walked through, BUT if that weren't enough...straight from the Hobbit's mouth:
J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; Book 4, Chapter IV: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit wrote:'Gollum!' he called softly. 'Third time pays for all. I want some herbs.' Gollum's head peeped out of the fern, but his looks were neither helpful nor friendly. 'A few bay-leaves, some thyme and sage, will do--before the water boils,' said Sam.


Ursus wrote:Not gonna lie, while sitting at breakfast and glancing at the pictures before reading the text I first thought that the leather was cured thick cut bacon!

I'll bet that roasted salt pork would do nicely with a sprinkling of sage, but what you're describing might be a bit excessive. *chuckle*
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Kortoso » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:39 pm

It's interesting that these are largely Mediterranean native plants. Many have been cultivated in English gardens for some time, but I suppose that the author was intending to indicate that the heroes were not in their home lands anymore.

In California, it's not hard to find similar species in the wild.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Greg » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:50 pm

If we look at Europe being Middle-earth, and England being more-or-less even with the Shire, Ithilien would likely wind up fairly Mediterranean itself. It's like he planned it.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Harper » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:20 am

What Greg said.

Aside from the Ravenna influence on Minas Tirith, I always envisoned the Southern Kingdom of Gondor as the Byzantine Empire. Of course, Gondor never fell.

The herbs mentioned fit that milieu perfectly.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Kortoso » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:53 pm

Harper wrote:What Greg said.

Aside from the Ravenna influence on Minas Tirith, I always envisoned the Southern Kingdom of Gondor as the Byzantine Empire. Of course, Gondor never fell.

The herbs mentioned fit that milieu perfectly.

OT:
I didn't know about that Ravenna connection. I wonder if Ravenna's fateful history has been noticed. The Goths overthrowing the Romans on that spot does have parallels to Middle Earth history, methinks.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Harper » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:17 am

Kortoso wrote:
Harper wrote:What Greg said.

Aside from the Ravenna influence on Minas Tirith, I always envisoned the Southern Kingdom of Gondor as the Byzantine Empire. Of course, Gondor never fell.

The herbs mentioned fit that milieu perfectly.

OT:
I didn't know about that Ravenna connection. I wonder if Ravenna's fateful history has been noticed. The Goths overthrowing the Romans on that spot does have parallels to Middle Earth history, methinks.


Fortress of Guaita near Ravenna:

Image

The information came from an annotated map which was found a few years back:

http://metro.co.uk/2015/10/24/annotated-map-of-j-r-r-tolkiens-middle-earth-has-been-discovered-inside-old-copy-of-lord-of-the-rings-5459573/

Of course, somewhere else (correspondence, I think) the Professor calls Minas Tirith a "Byzantine City."

It is most probably a synthesis.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Elleth » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:56 am

It's interesting that these are largely Mediterranean native plants. Many have been cultivated in English gardens for some time, but I suppose that the author was intending to indicate that the heroes were not in their home lands anymore.


Quite certainly, I think:

The long journey from Rivendell had brought them far south of their own land, but not until now in this more sheltered region had the hobbits felt the change of clime.


Given that the Professor also mentions in that passage that some of the trees were deliberately planted:
Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants


... I do wonder if the same might be true of some of the culinary herbs Frodo and Sam pass - I like to think at least some of those plants are the distant descendants of some long-forgotten Ithilien housewife's herb garden. :)
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Straelbora » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:07 am

I think Elleth is spot-on about some of the herbs being 'feral.' It again underscores Tolkien's description of Middle-earth being a post-apocalyptic landscape.

And since it hasn't been mentioned here yet, Judd & Judd's "The Flora of Middle-earth" is a brilliant book- written by a botanist, illustrated in wonderful woodcuts by his son who is an artist.

https://www.amazon.com/Flora-Middle-Ear ... egendarium

I think I've learned more about botany in general from reading this book, and it gives a whole new dimension to Tolkien's world-building (and highlights another level of his genius- the mention of plants did not fall idly in Middle-earth. And the book covers everything, including the Silmarillion.
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Re: Flavors of Ithilien

Postby Straelbora » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:11 am

Harper wrote:
Kortoso wrote:
Harper wrote:What Greg said.

Aside from the Ravenna influence on Minas Tirith, I always envisoned the Southern Kingdom of Gondor as the Byzantine Empire. Of course, Gondor never fell.

The herbs mentioned fit that milieu perfectly.

OT:
I didn't know about that Ravenna connection. I wonder if Ravenna's fateful history has been noticed. The Goths overthrowing the Romans on that spot does have parallels to Middle Earth history, methinks.


Fortress of Guaita near Ravenna:

Image

The information came from an annotated map which was found a few years back:

http://metro.co.uk/2015/10/24/annotated-map-of-j-r-r-tolkiens-middle-earth-has-been-discovered-inside-old-copy-of-lord-of-the-rings-5459573/

Of course, somewhere else (correspondence, I think) the Professor calls Minas Tirith a "Byzantine City."

It is most probably a synthesis.


Not lost on the designers of the set pieces for Peter Jackson's films, either. The Romanesque architecture found at Ravenna was likely the inspiration for their Minas Tirith. Here's a link to the cathedral at Vezelay, which is Romansque and looks like the Throne Room at Minas Tirith. http://technologybase.com/Renaissances/ ... ezelay.jpg
Vápnum sínum skala maðr velli á
feti ganga framar því at óvist er at vita
nær verðr á vegum úti geirs um þörf guma
Hávamál

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