[Sca-cooks] [Fwd: Nutmeg in stale ale]

S CLEMENGER sclemenger at msn.com
Sat Aug 2 10:27:20 PDT 2008

Can you quote the original (pertinent) passage from Chaucer, for context's 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at jeffnet.org>
To: "SCA-Cooks" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2008 3:45 AM
Subject: [Sca-cooks] [Fwd: Nutmeg in stale ale]

> So, what do you all think? Why is the nutmeg in 'stale ale'?
> 'Lainie
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Nutmeg in stale ale
> Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2008 11:22:26 +0200
> From: Brian S Lee <brianlee at XSINET.CO.ZA>
> Reply-To: Chaucer Discussion Group <CHAUCER at LISTSERV.UIC.EDU>
> References: <4888934E.60409 at amherst.edu>
> Fresh from a reading of John Keay's history of _The Spice Route_ (2005),
> I can better appreciate the absurdity of Thopas's adventuring into the
> forest of exotic spices incredibly located in Flanders.  Chaucer selects
> the rarest and so most valuable of spices, cetewale (zedoary) from Java,
> cloves from Ternate, and nutmeg from Banda, each further east than the
> last, but their origins in the mysterious regions beyond India totally
> unknown in medieval Europe.  Pepper, the commonest spice, he
> significantly doesn't mention.  Thopas's world is one of precious
> luxury, marred by the sudden injection of reality, that stale ale which
> was doubtless all too common in the experience of readers (hearers) of
> tail-rhyme romances.
> Nutmeg, apparently, is a prestigious thing to keep in the kitchen
> cupboard ("in cofre").  You wouldn't waste your most valuable spice
> (would you?) in stale ale.  Would it help to improve or disguise the
> flavour if you did?  Never having tried it, I await the comments of the
> culinary experts on this list.  The Host wanted a drink of moist and
> corny ale to help him recover from the Physician's Tale: does moist
> simply mean fresh?  Isn't all ale moist?  Is stale the opposite of
> moist, the result of neglect or poor brewing perhaps, or are these
> technical terms for different kinds of ale?  Why put nutmeg in both
> kinds, or is "stale" simply Chaucer's hint at the thoughtless use
> of cliches for rhyme in the romances he's burlesquing?
> Brian
> "With that long knife inside her, much I fear
> She'll go pale, ailing, into her small bier"
>             Leicester Silk Buckingham (1859) parodying Knowles's play of
> Virginia.
> ================================================================
> -- 
> "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our 
> abilities."  -Albus Dumbledore
> ~~~Follow my Queenly perambulations at: http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/
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