A while back I posted some quick thoughts on what to consider when trying to recreate the cuisine of the past (Viking in particular). I've since had some additional revalations, and thought I'd jot them down while I'm thinking about it. They all center around resource availability.
When we try to recreate the food of the past, one thing we tend not to think of right off hand is the effect of resource availability on cooking. We're so used to being able to hop right down to the local grocery store and buy pretty much whatever we want to eat, regardless of what time of year it is, the agricultural potential of where we live, etc.
However, when recreating historic cooking, take it into account. In the Viking case, for example, resource availability varied pretty widely depending on where in the Viking world you lived. Denmark has much more arable and grazing land than does Norway. For many people, the first thing that comes to mind if you say "Viking food" is some huge roast beast. However, for the average farmer in the Trondheim in Norway, that's simply not a possibility. There's not enough grazing land to support many cows on the fjords, and the ones that could be supported are much more useful for diary products than for meat. Plus, beef is comparatively hard to preserve (pork is much easier, but pigs like warmer weather). Taking that into account, we have to think more in terms of meat as a condiment, rather than as a central part of a meal. Things like corned beef, salt beef, salt pork, bacon, smoked fish, all lend themselves well to being used in other dished like soup, porridge (oat, barley, or peas), or vegetable dishes. On the other hand, when living on the fjord fish is probably pretty available for much of the year.
Preservation techniques make a big difference in terms of resource availability. In the south of Europe, salt is readily available, so things like salami, bacon, hard cheese etc. are pretty common, as are salted herring, salmon, and other oily fish. However, in Northern Europe, salt is much harder to come by and expensive, so many foods were more likely to be preserved with lactic acid fermentation (saurkraut, pickled herring, sour milk products) are much more practical.
So, to sum up, when recreating historic cooking in the absense of "recipes" it's important to consider the availability of foods, seasonally or in preserved form, rather than just considering whether of not X ingredient was ever eaten.