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View Full Version : French cuisine and stories to scare children in 15,000 BC



GeorgeK
11-11-2008, 05:17 PM
I've been wading through my first fantasy novel with a machete magically inscibed on one side with "Clichebane" and "Factoid" on the other and realized that when I started it almost 20 years ago it was set in the New World and somewhere along the way I changed the setting to Southern France on the Mediterranean coast. Perusing cave drawings suggests to me that game animals would include wild sheep, ox and boar (for staples) and people talk about the old days when there used to be herds of wooly mammoth and wooly rhinos but are all but extinct now.

Typical veggies are turnips, cattails, dandelions, mushrooms, onions, garlic

Scary childrens' stories mention saber toothed cats, dire wolves

Any thoughts?

FinbarReilly
11-11-2008, 05:42 PM
Why not prehistoric versions of fairy tales? A mysterious cave, a needle, and a few animal spirits (some nice, one mean), and you have zSleeping Beauty...Snow White should be even easier (evil witch, hunter, girl, and several goblins or nature spirits)...

FR

dclary
11-11-2008, 05:46 PM
According to my bible there weren't any children in 15,000 bc, mister!

I like George's idea of prehistoric versions of more modern tales -- although it runs the risk of sounding like a bad gag out of the Flintstones "Golden Hair and the Three Sabertooths" or some such.

But what about a much more sinister version of Red Riding Hood -- one that never makes it to grandmother's cave.

Just describe those fangs, the smell, the hot breath in the cold night, and the rent, broken body of a little girl, her bones scattered like twigs, and you'll scare the piss out of any little prehistoric tyke.

waylander
11-11-2008, 06:03 PM
Don't forget the bears.
There are still (a few) bears in the Pyrenees

Sarpedon
11-11-2008, 06:07 PM
Hell, in those days weren't there Lions and Rhinoceruses too?

GeorgeK
11-11-2008, 06:17 PM
Don't forget the bears.

There are still (a few) bears in the Pyrenees

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the bear.

Mainly, I'm trying to see if there are major archeologic problems like I found a forgotten mention of squash left over from the original setting when squash would not have existed at all in the Old World, for that time. Are cattails ubiquitous or are they "New World"? Were there direwolves in Europe at least at some point? Archeologists only have bones from prehistoric creatures, no actual skins, right? (that kind of thing...I don't want a reader to go, "WTF! There were never penguins in Siberia! or some such nonsense)

Also thanks to it being fantasy some archeologists in the 4th book find some fragments of writing dealing with Book 1, that they of course point out that it shouldn't exist at all and if it does, then it must be a fake, but eventually they decide that it's something between Old German and the root Indoeuropean Language.

FinbarReilly
11-11-2008, 11:51 PM
1) Cattails are fine. Remember the story about Moses and the rushes? Yeah, you're cool. But I was confused about squashes; I wasn't aware that squashes and gourds are from two different areas (the things you learn from Wikipedia...).

2) Europe was known for direwolves, so I think you're cool there too. But there wouldn't be any skins; although paleontologists have found hairs, they haven't found skins.

Otherwise, you should be fine!

FR

waylander
11-12-2008, 02:27 AM
2) Europe was known for direwolves, so I think you're cool there too. But there wouldn't be any skins; although paleontologists have found hairs, they haven't found skins.

FR

Are you sure?
The Wikipedia article restricts them to the New World
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dire_Wolf
as does this reference
http://www.naturalworlds.org/wolf/history/Canis_dirus.htm

FinbarReilly
11-12-2008, 05:28 AM
Actually, the Wikipedia article mentions that they were just more common in North America; given that wolves were common to Europe, as were aurochs and dire bears, I don't see why they couldn't have scattered packs...

FR

ideagirl
11-12-2008, 06:13 AM
... I changed the setting to Southern France on the Mediterranean coast. Perusing cave drawings suggests to me that game animals would include wild sheep, ox and boar (for staples) and people talk about the old days when there used to be herds of wooly mammoth and wooly rhinos but are all but extinct now.
Typical veggies are turnips, cattails, dandelions, mushrooms, onions, garlic
Scary childrens' stories mention saber toothed cats, dire wolves
Any thoughts?

You win the prize for weirdest thread title ever. Congratulations. :-)

The "ox" to which you refer, in prehistoric France, is not an ox but an auroch. The veggies are problematic--I know little to nothing about paleobotany, so I couldn't tell you what was there 18,000 years ago, but a couple of the things you mention are unlikely. Try googling "paleobotany france" and see what you find. Also, 18,000 b.c. marks the approximate beginning of the Magdalenian culture in France, so google that too and see what you find. But I think 18,000 B.C. was not an ice age, and the climate was not that different from the current one (or I should say, the mid-20th century one, before global warming).

So in that kind of climate, in southern France, garlic and onions would exist; mushrooms could exist but probably only in well-shaded forests, and only during the spring and fall; dandelions maybe (they have them now, but I'm not 100% sure they're native to Europe, so check); turnips yes, but not white turnips, which are native to England (I think); not cattails, because the Mediterranean coast is too dry for them. What there could be that you didn't mention is olive trees, grapes, and lots of different kinds of nuts and berries. Also, of course, citrus fruit trees. And tons of animals: birds, "chevreuils" (a kind of wild goat), etc.

waylander
11-12-2008, 06:38 AM
Actually, the Wikipedia article mentions that they were just more common in North America; given that wolves were common to Europe, as were aurochs and dire bears, I don't see why they couldn't have scattered packs...
FR

Er no.
Reading the whole article and the references quoted, it is clear that the Dire Wolf was only found in North and South America. It is not related to the Eurasian wolf.
http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/canis.php
http://www.itsnature.org/rip/recently/dire-wolf/

pdr
11-12-2008, 10:51 AM
what was growing how about looking at:
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/ahob/index_2.html The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain website for the 1st 5 yr project.
‘Homo britannicus’ by Chris Stringer Book summing up the findings of the AHOB 1 project.
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted_sites/ahob/index_2.html The next five year project - AHOB2

One of the people involved worked on finding pollens and working out what the habitat was like at each of the sites.

FinbarReilly
11-12-2008, 04:43 PM
Er no.
Reading the whole article and the references quoted, it is clear that the Dire Wolf was only found in North and South America. It is not related to the Eurasian wolf.
http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/canis.php
http://www.itsnature.org/rip/recently/dire-wolf/
Actually, the only reference is for North America; there were apparently no dire wolves any further south (in fact, it's noted that wolves were limited to North America specifically for most of their evolutionary history (going further south and they would have met stiff competition from cats, birds, and even rodents). I did point out that the only reason I would have allowed it was because of the alternate setting (otherwise, the bears would be a serious issue).

As for the vegetables, they have been somewhat stable. Vegetables tend to evolve slower, and without humans they would probably have few changes or transport. So squashes are out, but gourds aren't. Also, keep in mind that yoiu're between ice ages (you missed them by 2000 years previous and 6000 years ahead), if it helps at all.

Otherwise, your biggest issue is probably tech....

Have fun!

FR

Mike Martyn
11-12-2008, 08:22 PM
Check out the short faced bear. A bit larger than a grizzly but with long legs like a horse.

Most fairy tales are cautionary ones meant to keep the kiddies safe. If that meant scaring the crap out of them, so be it!

waylander
11-12-2008, 08:24 PM
Again a North America only creature if you're sticking to the real world

Mike Martyn
11-12-2008, 10:24 PM
Again a North America only creature if you're sticking to the real world

Admittedly there is no fossil evidence of short faced bears in Europe but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. With their long legs, I bet they trotted across the Bering strait land bridge occasionally.

dirtsider
11-14-2008, 12:56 AM
Most fairy tales are cautionary ones meant to keep the kiddies safe. If that meant scaring the crap out of them, so be it!

My thoughts exactly. Anything that either explained the things that go bump or howl in the night, kept the kiddies from exploring the wrong places, or taught them to deal with any given situation would be good.

dclary
11-14-2008, 01:35 AM
The worst part about French Cuisine in prehistoric times is that each escargot was 3 meters long.

:ROFL:

2Wheels
11-14-2008, 02:41 AM
The worst part about French Cuisine in prehistoric times is that each escargot was 3 meters long.

:ROFL:
Yeah, but the truffles were unbeatable ...

StephanieFox
11-14-2008, 11:31 PM
There was certainly a belief in spirits (good, helpful spirits and I suspect, dangerous ones, too) as evident in cave paintings. These shamanistic visions were part of the belief system of thses people.

There were also probably places where people shouldn't go (sacred or spiritually dangerous) and times of the year with spiritual danger, too. Add to this the everyday life of big hungry animals and you've got a lot of possibilities.

If you want to scare the cave kids, how about the giant bird who comes are carries children away. How about a Beowulf based kind of monster?

Oh, yes. Food. I'll bet that for a lot of the year, people ate other animals and the contents of those animal's stomach. That might be digested veggy matter. Some veggies grow under the snow. Kale is one, although I don't know if kale grew in Europe back then. There are also root veggies like horseradish (Vitimin C) and other tubers. They can freeze in the ground, be dug up and roasted in a fire.

ideagirl
11-15-2008, 08:43 PM
There was certainly a belief in spirits (good, helpful spirits and I suspect, dangerous ones, too) as evident in cave paintings. These shamanistic visions were part of the belief system of thses people.

That reminds me of the Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel. Those books are so good that they were on the reading list for a class I took at a university in France taught by the famous paleoarchaeologist Jean Clottes. He said that all the verifiable details (what plants grew where, what animals were where...) were correct, and all the unverifiable details (culture, religion...) were absolutely consistent with what little archaeological evidence there is (cave paintings, statuettes) and with the anthropological evidence from primitive tribes across the globe. To write the series, Auel traveled the world interviewing the top experts in every relevant field (paleobotany etc.) to get the information she needed.

Those books would be a phenomenal resource here--they're set at close to the same time (about 17,000 years ago, if I remember correctly), and while they start in Eastern Europe, the later books get to France.

FinbarReilly
11-15-2008, 08:56 PM
Y'know: You may want to grab a Boy Scout Manual. If the vegetables haven't changed all that much, some versions have lists of plants you can eat, as well as pictures and recipes. They are all about wilderness survival, after all.

Oh, and you may want to check out some of the military field manuals, especially given ranger training....

FR