Ye olde Tavern

When you hear or see a pub or tavern name of the type Ye Olde Tavern or Inn, what images are painted in your mind?

For me it’s the Prancing Pony, the inn kept by Barliman Butterbur in Bree in the Lord of the rings – a place where merry men sing and swing beakers of beer, a bit rowdy, with dark and gloomy corners and an open fire where a piglet is roasting. Though in my dream there is also plenty of good wine, served in Leather Wine Pouch, as in many an illustration of Friar Tuck in Robin Hood.

Well as in most cases reality and the romantic description found in literature and films does not correspond with reality. What we get served up as rustic and charming milieus were probably in reality rather murky, ill-smelling and mundane.

Currently I’m reading a book by Lorenzo Magalotti; Sverige under år 1674 (Sweden during the year 1674 aka Relazione del rigno di Svezia nel 1674) – a hand written journal, transcribed and then published by Carl Magnus Stenbock1912, in Swedish. This journal is perhaps best described as a spy-report or an intelligence report.

Lorenzo Magalotti (1637-1712) was an Italian count who travelled the north of Europe and came to Sweden in 1674. There are also several sketches from his journeys. He entered Sweden in June in Scania coming from Copenhagen and travelled north and left in September. Somewhere along the way he stopped by this Krog or Inn– perhaps better described as a kiosk or a McDonalds of that day. 

Where this particular krog was situated is not mentioned but for sure it was somewhere in Sweden.

I must confess that even though this looks rather tidy it’s not quite the Prancing Pony – is it? but still it’s neither that far from either 🙂

Lorenzo Magalotti describes what it could be like when you travelled through the Swedish countryside. The trip went by horse and carriage, at certain stops the horses are changed and at these stops you can also stay the night and get something to eat, though he wasn’t all that fond of the food. The usual food was goose, salted and smoked pork and/or beef. Occasionally there was also milk, eggs and butter available. To this they served beer, which was kept in wooden vessels that are coated with resin. The beer was thick, black and tasted of smoke.

When I look at these thing my reading list grows bigger, now I stumbled upon a book by Ulrica Söderlind På krogen med Linné: sjökrogar och svensk 1700-talsgastronomi (At the tavern/Inn with Linné: sea taverns/inns and the gastronomy of the 18th century in Sweden) from 2008 that I need to get hold of and read.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Magnus Reuterdahl


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