[Sca-cooks] Non-Pennsic SCA activities?

Ian Kusz sprucebranch at gmail.com
Thu Aug 7 13:54:34 PDT 2008

On Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 11:46 PM, Lady Celia <CeliadesArchier at cox.net> wrote:

> Dragon said:
> <<I don't think there is any way that your potency assertion could be
> proven, in fact, I'd wager that the opposite may well be true when we
> are discussing whole spices (which I use exclusively and grind fresh
> when needed).>>
> A wager would be ill advised, as we'd never be able to settled it, as
> there's no way to prove the truth either way.  And while I concede that one
> might think that time to market should be less today than in times past,
> knowing how long spices can just sit in production stages is one of the
> reasons I suspect that the potency of modern spices is less than those of
> ages gone.
> But I use my language very carefully, which is why I said "I suspect" and
> "That would be my first guess...", because in a case like this, all we can
> really do is suppose, extrapolate and guess, as no amount of data that we
> have from historical sources will provide the test that our tongues do. So,
> lacking a time machine, all we can do is suppose.
> And as I said, the second part of that is that I also suspect that we just
> simply have too many taste bud dulling substances in our diets. You may
> not,
> but most of us do. It's quite possible that our ancestors were just more
> used to subtle spicing.  Or that, like my grandmother, they believed in
> putting down minimums when recording recipes, knowing that you can always
> adjust up to taste, but you can't take spices out once they're in.
> In service,
> Celia
Actually, there was a fellah on TV who complained about this very thing; he
said that most spice sellers store things for about 2 years; this is due to
the fact that demand is often lower than production, then spikes, then goes
down again, as people replace what is in their cupboards.

A guy on a cooking show said that if your spice is older than 1 year old,
you might as well be putting sawdust on; that's how much flavor is left.

He overstated it, a bit, but I imagine there was less storage time for such
a precious resource in older times, assuming that loss of potency was
known.  Not to mention, I assume that such a wonderful commodity was bought
to be USED by the rich, not to just sit around.

  If Columbus traversed the Atlantic in 2 months, I gotta figure that travel
times for spices had to be under 2 years.  Marco Polo traveled overland
(with a side-trip to deliver a princess) from China, and it took about 3
years; I gotta figure travel times for a spice trader were shorter than

Of course, you can get fresher spices, I've no doubt, nowadays, from premium
sellers, or by buying from the producers.

Ian of Oertha

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