or A story about Europe’s Legendary Fighters

Hundreds of stories have been write about the Spartans, some are admirable, others so cruel that the mind can hardly accept that man is capable of such atrocities. Who does not know that the Spartans were the subject of legends and stories, which praised the courage and power of these demigods?

However, the history of Sparta means more than the stories of courage or the cruelty of those unparalleled fighters. The exploits of the Spartans at Thermopylae in the summer of 480 BC are already legendary. What other time or place was it possible for 300 fighters to withstand the thousands of Persian invaders of Xerxes? When the Spartans were told that when Xerxes’ archers fired arrows, the sky darkened, and they answered without hesitation: “Well, then we will fight in the dark!”

But not only the courage and power of the Spartans were unique in the wide world and over time, but also a dish whose recipe is not entirely known and can no longer be exactly reproduced. It is a black soup, a kind of spicy stew in which pork blood was the main ingredient.

In the case of the Spartans, the lunch did not lack black soup, boiled pork, pies and oatmeal. The black soup of the Spartans could not be digested by anyone else. There is information that all those who tried to reproduce it either could not swallow even a tablespoon of black juice, or it turned out to be a very good purgative.

In fact, Plutarch claims that the cook who prepared the black juice of the Spartans warned the Athenians that they could not eat such food unless they did Lacedaemonian gymnastics and bathe in Eurotas. For the Greeks, gymnastics was a compulsory activity, in every city there was a gymnasium, the place where you trained naked. Lacedaemonian exercises was really special and, if we listen to Plutarch, ensure the digestion of a food difficult to accept then and now.


Author: Maria Stroescu, conservator Golești Museum

Foto 1: reconstruction the black broth

Foto 2: Memorial of Leonidas and Sparta 300, Thermopylae