[Sca-cooks] Spicing was Non-Pennsic SCA activities?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Thu Aug 7 13:42:57 PDT 2008

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".


Great households in period usually consisted of a large number of people who 
ate comunally, private dining being a largely a Renaissance addition.  A 
powerful lord might have 100 to 200 retainers in his service and his Lady 
might have 50 to 100, making for a combined household of 150 to 300 people, 
not including the staff  of the manor or establishment (who became members 
of the household when the owner's were in residence).  Even smaller 
households ran to 40 or 50 people.  At two meals per person per day, you can 
go through a lot of spices.  A Royal of High Noble household expenditures of 
supplies would be even greater. The question is not the total quantity of 
spices expended, but quantity expended per person between the replenishment 
of supplies.

Woolgar's work on how the great households of England were structured and 
functioned is probably the best overall source for the basic information.


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