Crazy bread—it was in the month of July that famine was at its worst

[In England around the year 1000 it was in the month of July – just before the harvest – that famine was at its worst. The previous year’s storage was gone and the coming year’s had yet to ripen. Weakened from hunger and already half stoned from eating fungus-infected rotting grain, people scavenged for anything to eat to bulk up what remained. This is when they ran the risk of picking psychoactive plants.]

“This hallucinogenic lift was accentuated by the hedgerow herbs and grains with which the dwindling stocks of conventional flour were amplified as the summer wore on. Poppies, hemp and darnel were scavenged, dried, and ground up to produce a medieval hash brownie known as “crazy bread.”

Lacey, Robert, and Danny Danziger. The Year 1000: What Life Was like at the Turn of the First Millennium: An Englishman’s World. 1999. Print.

We know about poppies and hemp. Wikipedia says about darnel:

‘Darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. The French word for darnel is ivraie (from Latin ebriacus, intoxicated), which expresses the drunken nausea from eating the infected plant, which can be fatal. The French name echoes the scientific name, Latin temulentus “drunk.”‘

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