[Sca-cooks] Spicing

Sandra Kisner sjk3 at cornell.edu
Thu Aug 7 08:32:09 PDT 2008

>Johnna Holloway wrote:
>>I mentioned this question to the author of Take A /Thousand Eggs/ or More 
>>and Cindy Renfrow wrote me that
>>"Off the top of my head...
>><shrug> Spices were expensive imports. Except for a few notable 
>>exceptions in the collection, and as far as I recall, spices were used 
>>sparingly and in a manner that they'd be most noticed by the diners ­ 
>>i.e. as a final tasty, colorful garnish. This was especially true on 
>>white dishes. Herbs, ginger and saffron, OTOH, were grown locally and 
>>used in larger quantity.?
>Then how does she explain the sometimes enormous quantities of spices such 
>as cinnamon and pepper and nutmegs that show up in some household 
>inventories of the period? (I am at work and have no direct references 
>handy, I'll try to dig some up later at home if anyone really wants some). 
>I can only surmise that these great quantities of spice were not allowed 
>to just sit unused until they went bad. I am also convinced that 
>conspicuous consumption and showing off one's wealth were just as much in 
>fashion then as they are today. People have always operated on the 
>principle of "if you have it, flaunt it".

How big a household are we talking about, though?  The kind of place that 
we have cookbooks from are often feeding a very large number of people, and 
would go through spices faster than the average family today.


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