[Sca-cooks] Period?, was Tomatoes

lilinah@earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu Oct 5 16:16:48 PDT 2006

Cealian wrote:
>  > So after several dozens of e-mails the question still stands. Are Tomatoes
>  > period or not?

niccolo difrancesco responded:
>I contend that the first question continues to be definition of "period or
>not".  Until there is a clear explantaion of what that prhase actually means
>to the person asking the question, there can be no meaningful answer.

I agree.

The problem is that "period" really doesn't mean much, except in the 
most vague, general, and unfocused way.

"Period" in the context of the SCA (and i often write "period for the 
SCA" in quotes in e-mail) implies to me something that is perhaps 
evident in all, or at least most, times and cultures covered by the 

The official SCA end date is the end of the year 1600, the 100th year 
of the 16th century (1601 being the first year of the 17th C.). Last 
time i looked the SCA has no clear official start time, but is, i 
hear, generally considered to be "The Fall of Rome", which varies as 
there were several - and some consider the final Fall of Rome to be 
1453 when Constantinopolis was conquered by the Osmanli Turk Mehmed 
II - but which i hear most often being the last time Rome falls to 
the "barbarians"... more or less 476 CE.

There has to be darn little that was universally, or nearly 
universally, used in all of Europe (and the areas in direct contact 
with Europeans) during that 1125 or so years...

But if someone is only interested in what was used in any time and 
any place within the time frame of the SCA, then i can imagine, for 
example, someone serving tomatoes in a feast the includes recipes by 
Anthimus (6th C. CE) - who clearly never heard of, let alone ate, a 
tomato - because both tomatoes and Anthimus's recipes are "period" - 
in the most vague and general sense, i.e., falling somewhere, some 
time within the range from 476-1600.

Tomatoes are not "period for the SCA" in the more limited sense 
(i.e., common in most times and places with those covered by the 
SCA), because they are not in use in most of those times and places. 
They may be "period" for the 16th century, depending on where and 
when, and perhaps for whom, since they appear not to have been in 
general and common use. In 16th C. Europe, tomatoes appear to be 
eaten primarily in Spain and what is now Italy... and from what i can 
tell, given the way that what is now Italy was fragmented, possibly 
only in the parts of it that were under Spanish control. (less than 
10 per cent of the time generally considered to be covered by the 
SCA, and in a very limited geographical area)

To reiterate, "Is this period for the SCA?" is a nearly meaningless 
question, because the temporal and geographical areas covered by the 
SCA are rather vast, not to forget the incredible range of cultural 
attitudes, religions, etc., which strongly influence what people eat 
and use - even in one time and place.

It appears to me the issue is not to know whether or not some 
thing/idea/practice was in use between 476 and 1601, but to know the 
specifics of where when

It is important to be specific - more like: "when, where, and by whom 
was this (item used/idea held)?" - if one is recreating something... 
this is not just true of creating a feast - or even a meal - but of 
other things we do as well. I can imagine an outfit composed of shoes 
from one time and place, "pants" from another, a tunic from still a 
third, topped with a cap or coif from yet a fourth , and the wearer 
saying the outfit is period, because each of the parts is, although 
the parts are all from different times and places (rather like the 
first feast i cooked - all good tasty "period" food in courses that 
went well together, but from  the late 14th to the mid-17th C. and 
from Spain, England, France in a rather random arrangement)

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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