[Sca-cooks] Period?, was Tomatoes

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Fri Oct 6 06:23:10 PDT 2006

On Oct 6, 2006, at 8:35 AM, Sandragood at aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 10/5/2006 6:17:50 P.M. Central Daylight Time,
> lilinah at earthlink.net writes:
> 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
> This is exactly the point I made in my post about redacting which  
> was  in
> response to the "stewed tomatoes vs. ketchup" thread.  Redacting  
> without  a
> recipe is more than finding a list of ingredients (like in a   
> household receipt
> book) and putting them together.  Just because  you have the  
> ingredients doesn't
> mean they were used together in that time  and place in a manner we  
> would use
> them today, i.e. my Reuben sandwich  example.
> Finding that the ingredients were used in a particular manner is  
> the  key.
> We know that sweeteners, thickening agents, vinegars, and  tomatoes  
> were found
> in Spain.  However, we only  have accounts of tomatoes being eaten  
> vinegar, not of a sauce  being made from them.

According to Gerard (if he can be considered reliable on contemporary  
Spanish practices, and I'm paraphrasing from memory here), the  
Spaniards fry tomatoes in oil, add vinegar or verjuice to taste, and  
salt, and that is their sauce, as the English use mustard.

>   Until you can solidly justify,
> prove, or document  with period sources that they would have made a  
> "sauce" from
> tomatoes,  ketchup would remain controversial.

Tomato ketchup appears to be an American invention of the 18th or  
19th century. I, in extreme shorthand mode, referred to the alleged  
Spanish practice mentioned by Gerard as "vinegar-stewed tomatoes", as  
in tomatoes cooked down in a pan with vinegar. (Incidentally, for  
those who have issued with this above and beyond the ketchup scope,  
you can get canned, diced tomatoes which are essentially stewed, with  
balsamic vinegar added). The only reason for mentioning ketchup (for  
which tomatoes become the default main ingredient in places like the  
US quite late in its history) is that it contains both tomatoes and  
vinegar. Yes, it also contains sugar and/or corn syrup, and spices,  
but most modern commercial versions contain little in the way of spice.

I don't think anyone is asserting that tomato ketchup is a period thing.
> Someone mentioned a book about the history of ketchup.  I am   
> unfamiliar with
> the book, but if the author states that ketchup has a history   
> linked to our
> (SCA) time period, does he give his sources?  Are they period   
> sources, or
> just someone else's opinion on the matter?  I'm curious.

As I say, Andrew F. Smith is, or was, a frequent poster to  the  
UseNet newsgroup rec.food.historic, and has left a lot of spoor on  
the Internet -- anybody looking for examples of his writing should  
have no trouble finding it. As far as I know, he makes no claims  
regarding the periodicity of tomato ketchup, although fish or soy  
ketchup may be another matter entirely.


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