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The women of Lake-town who survived the wrath of the dragon Smaug and saw his defeat at the hand of Bard the Bowman, set about making their new city a place to rival any other settlement of men in Middle-earth. While the men were focused on construction, the women made sure they were well-fed. Re-building an entire town would not be easy nor swift, but the NEW Lake-town, or Esgaroth, as it would be named, would be far less flamable! This feature was perhaps a bit late in coming, since there was no more threat of immolation from gold-hoarding dragons.
Nonetheless, the residents wanted to attract new businesses, and, of course, tourism was bound to pick up once the bones of Smaug were recovered from the bottom of the lake and re-assembled for viewing. A museum celebrating the heroism of Bard the Bowman would be built and the dragon’s bones placed on exhibit. One could envision future festivals celebrating the great victory over Smaug with dragon kite flying contests, dragon boat rides, and flaming sword-swallowers on parade down the main street. Perhaps the wizard Mithrandir would join them and offer up some of his famous fireworks!
Once the city was in good enough shape to promote itself as a destination — “Visit Esgaroth! We’re no longer flammable!” — would be the focus for the marketing campaign — a farmers’ and artists’ market was established on the lake shore. Many vendors offered dragon-themed wares, such as replicas of the arrow that slew Smaug, wall hangings featuring the dragon breathing fire over the city, and deep-fried “dragon on a stick.”
These novelties were a necessary part of the tourism industry, but they were not the reason for the market’s eventual fame. The Esgaroth Public Market became known throughout the realms of Middle-earth for its regional cuisine! The women had preserved some of the former town’s heritage by serving traditional foods that were handed down to them over generations of mothers of Lake-town. Many recipes included varieties of fresh fish from the lake. And in summer, the bounty of the gardens came to the Market in dishes featuring fresh tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, carrots, spices and herbs.
While recipes of this era have not survived, one can imagine such a dish as we will call Lake-town Market Salad. Since it would have been poor stewardship to waste any of the harvest, one way to use up the odds and ends was to combine them with grains or noodles to create a one-dish meal. Lake-town Market Salad was not as famous as other, more sophisticated, dishes, but it has a regional flare that reminds one of the rustic way of life back in the third age of men.
Lake-town Market Salad2 cups cooked risotto 1 each small Yellow, Orange and Red Bell Peppers 2 Green Tomatoes 2 Ripe Tomatoes 1 small Shallot or Onion Black olives (or green if you prefer) 1 can of black beans (or other variety or combination of beans) Fresh basil, oregano, and parsley to taste 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar 1 Tbl Olive Oil Salt, Pepper to taste Cook risotto according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool. Dice the vegetables and add to the risotto with the herbs and spices. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stir. Place in refrigerator to cool one hour before serving. A dollop of sour cream or ricotta cheese on top is a nice addition, or add cubed ham and shredded cheese for a anti-pasto. This “salad” is also good served hot – after mixing (omit the olive oil and vinegar), heat it on the stove top or put it into the oven. Grate cheese over it to get nice and melty. You could also put this mixture into a nice broth — either chicken or beef — and make a soup or stew! Add tobasco or red pepper flakes for those who like it with some kick! *Disclaimer — this recipe is not on the Middle-earth Recipes site. It is my own creation, in honor of Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo’s birthdays today, September 22, 2012.