[Editor’s note: this special post for The Scallion was submitted by a reader. Typically, we do not bring in guest writers, but when this one managed to reach us via heavily laden European Swallow, we decided to publish it out of admiration to their sheer dedication.]
There is nothing quite like the feel of stones pressing through the soft leather of your shoes, or the wet, dewy feeling of waking up outside in the warmer months. Maybe you decided to participate in a pilgrimage for devout religious reasons, or maybe just to experience the open road before you, but the calling to leave home with little but a cloak and a seashelled hat is irresistible. Whether you’re walking the long road from Winchester to Canterbury or simply stalking the paths around Pennsic, you need a hearty, but easy to prepare meal that will fuel your expedition. But first, let me give you an extraordinarily long exposition that you’ve neither asked for, nor care to read.
I was first compelled to heed the call about a decade ago. It was not so much the voice of God speaking to me from above, but rather it was a desire to experience the monotony and boredom of walking for great distances in tremendously uncomfortable footwear under the blazing summer sun that spoke to me. It was a voice I knew all too well I could not ignore.
Unable to make the voyage to Europe, I contented myself to walk from one town in rural Calontir to another, entirely in 13th century garb, armed with a sword and buckler, a small pack, and a walking stick as often seen in manuscripts. I left at day break after a good night’s rest, making my way through the small downtown area where I immediately began asking strangers if they had any coin or food to spare. I was met with such incredulity, disdain and fearful glances that I knew I was experiencing something truly accurate. When a local sheriff stopped me to inquire about my sword, I had to declare, “Such bandits as may patrol these roads, dare I go unarmed? I would beset myself upon no innocent, but carry these weapons only that I might defend myself from tyrants and brigands who might do me harm!” After taking my ID, he seemed well satisfied and again I felt a truly medieval moment, having come under the persecution of a shire reeve.
[Editor’s note: we have edited this piece for brevity]
Some small grains in your pouch
A handful of dried fruit
A hard crust of bread
A bite of salted meat
A swig of water
Time to prepare:
Just eat them. You’re poor, can’t carry much and are largely at the mercy of whatever charity the benevolent souls you pass care to offer. You may well starve before you arrive so there is no point in letting these few victuals you possess to spoil. With any luck, maybe you’ll find a kindly abbey tomorrow. Or perhaps you’ll plod on with a grumbling stomach and hardly the energy to go on. But embrace the suffering! That’s why you’re on pilgrimage!