[Sca-cooks] Atlantian Twelfth Night Feast

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Thu Jan 25 21:38:59 PST 2007

Alys Katharine reviewed the the Atlantian Twelfth Night Feast (13  
January) in Charlotte, NC, and commented:

<<< There also was sausage on a bed of
sauerkraut with cooked apple slices.  I forgot to ask Valharic about the
sausage.  Since everything else was "homemade", I am guessing the  
was, too, but it looked so uniform that I assumed it was
commercially-purchased.  The apple slices were sour, like the kraut,  
and my
brain expected them to be sweet - to provide a contrast with the
sauerkraut.  I asked Val later about his choice to make them sour and he
thought it worked better that way.  It wasn't bad-tasting; just  
unexpected. >>>

Were these apple slices naturally sour? Or were they sour because  
they were pickled like the kraut? If the former, what apple types  
would be sour and where would you find such apples?

<<< Dessert was small squares of pastry with two different  
"fillings".  Mine
was nut and (honey?).  I will admit to looking at them and thinking  
it was
too bad that Valharic purchased commercially-made pastry after such a  
meal had been served.  I found out later that night from Valharic  
that the
pastry was not commercially-made but it was professionally-made.   
works for one of the universities and deals with food provisions.  He  
asked their pastry chef if he'd be interested in trying the German  
He was, and he taught Val some of the techniques while the chef made  
300 of
each pastry.  They were far more flavorful and delicate than the
commercially-made kind that one can usually find in a large grocery  
For some reason, I hadn't ever really thought about the skill of the  
pastry workers.  They specialized in their craft and could have -  
would have - produced uniform, well-made items.  Somehow I've gotten  
to the irregularities that many of us produce when trying to reproduce a
period pastry.  I am not meaning this as a criticism of our amateur SCA
cooks.  Most of us aren't the professionals that would have been  
working in
the high nobility's kitchens.  I was just taken aback by my  
assumption that
since the feast's pastry looked uniform, it must have been purchased and
made by machine.  It wasn't commercial; it was _professional_. >>>

But was uniformity a sought after attribute during the Middle Ages?  
In food? Or are we projecting modern views on to the Middle Ages?

In what little research I've done on period wood finishes, it looks  
like painted/colored surfaces were much more popular then than they  
tend to be today. Conversely, they seem to have used polished wood/ 
stained wood much less, whereas we seem to be much more fond of that  
in both natural wood items, in veneer and in plastic wood-like  
objects. It may well be that they were surrounded by nature and  
nature was to be feared, not glorified. We on the otherhand often  
live in an artificial world, separated from nature and thus work to  
bring it or a semblance of it inside.

So, I'm wondering if views on food uniformity might also differ then  
from now. Or do we both then and now seek uniformity? Today we do  
seem to seek uniformity in manufactured foods, but do we do so in  
chef made or artesian foods? Or do we emphasis individuality in such  
foods today to separate them from manufactured foods?

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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