[Sca-cooks] Crocodile was Magpies

Daniel & Elizabeth Phelps dephelps at embarqmail.com
Tue Mar 4 16:02:46 PST 2008

Perhaps not croc flesh but thier eggs?


Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
Frank Zappa

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like 
administering medicine to the dead.
Thomas Paine
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>
To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Crocodile was Magpies

> On Mar 4, 2008, at 4:26 PM, Dragon wrote:
>>> You are misinterpreting what I said. I did not say I had
>> documentation for any of this.
> I made a pretty off-the-cuff statement myself, so I'm no one to point
> fingers, but I'm not sure the lack of documentation for a statement is
> the problem in this discussion. It _is_ sort of an academic
> discussion, and some of the people here are playing by more-or-less
> predictable academic rules, an important one of which is that you
> don't  look for a piece of paper to back up a statement you've made.
> Rather, you base your statement on observation and analysis of the
> things you've seen -- including, if you're a student, a good number of
> pieces of paper, probably.
>> What I did say is that they ate a ton of odd things
> Well, okay. Let's try this: how do we know what odd things they ate?
> Mostly from written accounts, like, say, Apicius, Vinidarius, Pliny.
> Right? Otherwise this starts to look like we're repeating urban
> legends. The trouble is, these sources don't seem to mention these
> types of animals. Mostly the exotic animals they do mention are birds
> and fish, it seems to me. Is it conceivable we've grown comfortable
> believing certain things without evidence, and that what we think we
> know is, in fact, myth, in some cases? Lots of people know, for
> example, that the Romans ate sauce made of rotten fish, which isn't
> quite the case. They know all about Roman vomitoriums, which are far
> more typical in other times and places than in decadent Imperial Rome.
> We all know medieval cookery uses dozens of spices mixed
> indiscriminately, and that more spices were used to cover the flavors
> of rotting meat (both also false).
>> so it would not
>> surprise me if they did eat these things also.  There are historical
>> accounts of all sorts of exotic species being brought to Rome for
>> gladiatorial games (no, I don't have any references handy, this is
>> from memory).
> Suetonius comes to mind; probably Pliny.
>> It is not a far stretch to think that once these
>> animals had been dispatched in the games that they would have been
>> eaten.
> I strongly suspect it would make a lot more sense to feed them, while
> still relatively fresh, to the surviving animals, especially since
> they almost certainly died under duress and full of adrenalin.
>> I not specifically aware of any texts in Chinese medicine that regard
>> use of the crocodile as I have not done any such research. However,
>> through a casual knowledge of modern Chinese medicinal practices, I
>> know they use a lot of reptiles including all sorts of lizards,
>> cobras and other snakes. So again, I would not be surprised if they
>> did use crocodiles in some medicinal soup. Virtually every edible
>> item in traditional Chinese culture is associated with some sort of
>> supposed medical benefit.
> Okay, I'm with you there. We tend to have frog's legs in the freezer,
> just in case, for soups of this very kind, and there are pharmacopeias
> available in English for dealing with Chinese herbal medicine; I'm
> sure info on this subject would be in one or more of them. I'll see if
> I can check one of them this evening. But whether this constitutes
> evidence of crocodiles being eaten in Europe in period, I doubt.
> There's just too much circumstantial evidence to suggest that such
> creatures were loathed, and not, AFAIK, enough evidence to suggest
> they actually were eaten on any regular basis, except for frogs (which
> are mentioned in Le Menagier).
> Adamantius
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