[Sca-cooks] *Sigh* That tomato thing - again

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Mon Oct 2 12:41:52 PDT 2006

The problem is not the inclusion of the tomato, but the selective use of 
facts.  In terms of historic intrepretation, there is a big difference 
between "tomatoes were eaten in Europe in the 16th Century" and "tomatoes 
were grown and appear to have been eaten, at least occasionally, in Spain 
and Italy."  Without modification, the first statement is open to extreme 
misinterpretation.  In addition, people who do not have a grasp of the facts 
are likely to spread misinformation, while those who are knowledgeable are 
likely to question everything else the source says.  I still question how 
far I can trust the accuracy of an individual who threw an off-hand but 
incorrect remark about potatoes into a paper on furnishings.

When historical fact is claimed, one has an obligation to veracity and 
accuracy.  In a demo, where we are meeting the educational goals of the SCA, 
we should strive to be correct and transparent in our facts and 

BTW, I don't use "authenticity" in relation to the SCA as everything is 
"authentic" something (I don't necessarily know what).  I choose to use 
gradiations of the terms "historically accurate" and "historically 
inaccurate" in relation to known facts.


> I'm not part of the demo in question, but my impression is that it is to 
> show an array of foods that were *available* in the period the SCA covers, 
> not necessarily for foods that were commonplace (It has been mentioned in 
> another place that oranges are being included for the demo in question, I 
> doubt that many medieval Normans or renaissance era Venetians ate the 
> typical orange that can be bought at Food Lion in October very often). 
> Reading the sources sited here, I would surmise that at least for part of 
> the period involved and for a few places tomatoes were at least present, 
> even if we don't have recipes for their use.
> Having said that, is there a place for a tomato at a demo of that type, 
> perhaps with an explanation that it is a food from the "New World"? 
> There's a big difference between a tomato sitting on a table of vegetables 
> and serving a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce. I'm 
> honestly curious about the thoughts everyone has about this for my own 
> reference and not to slam anyone else's scholarship, so please attribute 
> any unpleasant connotation the question may have to my ignorance and not 
> malice.
> I always am perplexed about where the line is being drawn and why on this 
> topic  in the SCA (or about SCA authenticity in general), especially 
> since, in this case, the fried , frozen bread dough  and packaged, 
> presliced bacon being cooked at this demo seem to pass muster as 
> acceptable. To me, it seems to be the same thing as drinking Diet Coke out 
> of a teak mug from the Phillipines (done it myself, seen it at lots of 
> demos), which I suspect would be harder to document than the *presence* of 
> tomatoes in 16th century Spain or Italy.
> Geffrei

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