[Sca-cooks] Spicing

Dragon dragon at crimson-dragon.com
Thu Aug 7 08:49:47 PDT 2008

Sandra Kisner wrote:

>>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.
---------------- End original message. ---------------------

I understand that factor, but we are also talking 
about some of these inventories showing many 
pounds of cinnamon or some other spice. I seem to 
recall one of them saying something like 100 
pounds of cinnamon on hand (or maybe it was 
pepper). That is an enormous quantity, even for a large household.

I'll try to remember where I saw that and if I 
can find it, I'll post the reference.

Even cooking for large groups several times a 
year and liking my food quite flavorful, I have a 
hard time going through even one pound of 
cinnamon in a year. Or pepper for that matter.


  Venimus, Saltavimus, Bibimus (et naribus canium capti sumus)

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