[Sca-cooks] Non-Pennsic SCA activities?
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
> 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,
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
More information about the Sca-cooks