[Sca-cooks] Methodology and Sicily 1100 RE: Recipes for a handout

Nick Sasso grizly at mindspring.com
Tue Jan 16 06:42:31 PST 2007

-----Original Message-----
>I'm not sure if you are asking about medieval or modern cooking in  
>Sicily, nor am I sure whether some or all of the recipes in  
>Gianotta's handout are modern or period. Gianotta, if most of them  
>are period, I'd love to have your handout for the Florilegium. Sicily  
>is a region that doesn't seem to get much attention in the SCA.

Firstly, I'll address this question. These recipes are not period, but display traits of Arabic cooking not found on the Italian peninsula. And at least two of the recipes — the emir of Catania's chicken and pasta con le sarde — have oral roots to this period. 

< < SNIP > > 

As far as what is known about period Sicilian cooking — there are no extant written recipes. The cooks of the emirs and the Norman kings did not leave any records. But there are the words in dialect derived from Arabic, and the fact that parts of the island were almost untouched cultural backwaters between the Vespers and the 19th century. Words, traditions, customs survived. And the echoes of that history — my family's history — are what I want to share with folks on Saturday.

Gianotta > > > > > >> 

Done well, people will get a feel for the love you have of your family history and love of the Sicilian culture.  Done not so well, and people will walk away thinking that what you presented is "period" Sicilian recipes and service. It does some dicey from my own personal methodology to use modern ethnic recipes to infer cusine centuries ago . . . but you are not me.  That whole "oral roots" dating back to 1100 gives me visions of games of "Grapevine" at an apocolyptic level <G>

It's the balancing game often played with 'undocumented' or poorly recorded (in terms of researchable information available to us) cultural cusine, be it 1100 Sicilian, or 1300 Polish.  We have to make inferences in order to present anything from those periods, and the inferences can easily be misundestood and taken as gospel by those receiving the presentation.  Take your measured risks, and we'll see how the audience receives it, eh?

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