[Sca-cooks] Non-Pennsic SCA activities?

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 7 16:45:40 PDT 2008

Celia wrote:
>I suspect that part of it is that the potency of modern dried spices is
>significantly lower than that which would have been used by our medieval
>counterparts.  That and our taste buds have changed, and are more often
>assaulted with taste bud dulling foods and ingredients.
>That would be my first guess as to why this might be true.

In period, it took about a year for ships to get from Arab ports to 
Indian ports and back again. Many of these spices originated in the 
islands of Indonesia and parts of Southeast Asia, then were shipped 
to India, where they sat in storage until the traders sailed to pick 
them up - who then had to wait until the monsoon winds changed to 
blowing back west again, then sailed back, where they again sat in 
depots waiting for distribution by ship or over land.

It could sometimes take spices 3 years, somewhat exposed to the 
elements during parts of the time, to reach their destination at a 
spice merchant in Europe - before getting to a client - who might 
keep it for another year before it was all used up. From what i've 
read, some large households bought spices in bulk and kept them until 
they needed to buy them again.

Note that most of the journey that spices took was by sea, which even 
at close to a year from an Arabic port to an Indian port and back 
again, was much faster and safer than overland by caravan. Overland 
journeys might be from an inland grower to a depot and from a seaport 
to inland at the end of the trip. But spices did not make the 
majority of the trip overland - generally only to or from a port.

I doubt it takes 3 years for spices to get from their grower to the 
supermarket these days.

I cooked a late period Italian recipe that actually gave weights for 
spices. One of the spices was clove and the dish was so 
overwhelmingly clovey, and not in a nice way. I like strong spices, 
but this was quite unpleasant. I can only assume that their cloves 
were pretty darn stale by the time they got used.

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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