[Bordermarch] A & S / Ld Elrique's cooking for GW

Charles Netterville ck_netterville at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 28 08:57:34 PDT 2009

Certainly Countess. 
The meats were prepared using period ingredients in both the marinade and the rub. Beef briskets were the meat of choice. This cut would not have been served to any nobility in period because they were deemed inferior meats and beneath the station of Lords or Ladies. The servants would typically have reserved these cuts to feed the slaves and themselves, cooking them in the chimney rather than over the fires for more than one reason. 
First, the Master of the home had to come first. His meats were roasted over the fire and over the coals, be it by spit or by rack. These 'prime' cuts were tender and juicy without being slow smoked or marinaded into submission so they would be cooked and served to the Master and his/her guests of the evening. 
The Romans were the first to document the use of vinegars that I've read on so far and we know by written accounts that vinegar was also carried by the legions to purify the drinking water wherever they should travel. For this reason, Romans had developed a taste for vinegars in their cooking as well as their drinking water ( whenever wines were not available)
This is documented widely, but most notably, a mention of this practice is made in the Christian Bible.
Servants also used them to marinade the tougher cuts of meats because it was a cheap and readily available means of breaking down the meats with the high acid content of the vinegar. The acids would have also acted to stave of parasites and bacteria although they had no idea what actually caused the meats to spoil. 
The second reason for the cooking in the chimneys were that it was a well known fact that smoke would preserve the meat. 
( Apicius gives us the tip in a few of his sausage recipes that upon completion of the manufacture of said sausage, they should be hung in the chimney so they would be ready for use whenever you should choose) and so the smoke created a way of keeping the meats from spoiling throughout the day while the rest of the Master's meals would have been prepared. 
These cuts also required a great deal of time to slow cook and the indirect heat from the fires in front of the hearth would have been perfect for this. 
For this reason, although we have little documented history of the BBQ, I feel that we can safely argue that it was a regular occurrence in kitchens all across Europe in period but since it wasn't something that might have been served to honored guests, the recipes would never have been preserved. 
Am I the only one who is thinking that perhaps the servants knew something the Master might not have and they were really keeping the best for themselves? 
For this reason, I started with a red wine vinegar with Roman or Italian seasonings like basil, oregano, ginger, thyme, etc. then the meats were covered in minced garlic and allowed to slow smoke in my own form of a chimney ( better known as a 30"pipe with a firebox welded on to it.) and it was allowed to smoke near a bed of hickory coals throughout the course of the day. As has already been noted, the winds were perfect and the smells of smoking meats wafted across the list field all day long and I've been informed by many that it was indeed a form of torture.
The pit (chimney) used was for this event was courtesy of Ld. Bussa and the Barony of Ravensfort.
The 'meat' of my project is to adequately document BBQ in the middle ages as I've been informed that BBQ is NOT period and should not be a part of our game. I challenge that assertion and am in the process of compiling documentation to prove it. The things I've gone over in this missive are not disputed and considered by most to be common knowledge. 
My apologies for not thinking of this either. I was just out there having fun and didn't even think of the cook off as a portion of the A&S project. 
En servante Christus et Corronae, Ld. Elrique, OSTB

--- On Sat, 3/28/09, tessa <tessa at gt.rr.com> wrote:

From: tessa <tessa at gt.rr.com>
Subject: [Bordermarch] A & S / Ld Elrique's cooking for GW
To: "BARONY BORDERMARCH" <bordermarch at lists.ansteorra.org>
Date: Saturday, March 28, 2009, 9:16 AM

About A & S... I failed to mention Ld. Elrique's cooking on site at GW.  Oh, my empty brain!
It all happend in days before I arrived at GW. 
Apologies for not thinking to mention that on-site cooking.

Ld. Elrique, will you please be sure to notify the A & S Officer of your preparation and accomplishment.
And, thank you for you endeavors at GW and the generosity of your time!

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