[Sca-cooks] Recipes for a handout

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Tue Jan 16 11:46:28 PST 2007

>  And for me, the research touched upon the traditions of my own 
>family; the "honey balls" of fried pastry soaked in rosewater and 
>honey my grandmother made each Christmas, the fennel salads with 
>sour orange slices, the chickpea cuccia my great-grandmother made 
>for St. Lucia's day ... no surprise that these are all dishes from 
>the "Arab" side of the island.

 From my standpoint, that's part of the problem. Your great 
grandmother was presumably born in the 19th century, so although she 
seems very ancient to us she is a modern in the context of period 
cooking. And while it is possible that matters culinary remained 
unchanged for the centuries between the time she lived and the time 
you are trying to recreate, there is little reason to assume it--we 
know, after all, that other traditional societies adopted New World 
food products to the extent that modern inhabitants of those 
societies think of those products as part of thier traditional 
cooking. New World food products provide a change we can observe, but 
I see no reason to assume away other changes that are harder to 

It's very easy for people in the SCA, especially ones who know less 
of the history than you do, to confuse "old" in the sense of "my 
great grand-mother" with "old" in the sense of "pre-seventeenth 
century" (or, in your context, c. 1100). And I am concerned that 
projects like the one you describe will encourage them to do so. Just 
think what some of their great-grandmothers' recipes might be.

I can certainly see that researching similarities between what is 
known about traditional Sicilian cooking and what is known about 
period Islamic (and perhaps also Italian and Byzantine) cooking would 
be a fascinating project and could make an interesting class. But it 
seems to me that handing out recipes at an SCA event is likely to 
result in people who get those recipes, or others they pass them on 
to, assuming they are period, even if you tell them that they are not.

Would it be possible to do the sort of handout you describe, pairing 
up the modern recipes with the closest period ones you can find and 
discussing similarities and differences? That might at least reduce 
the problem.

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